PARIS: French Prime Minister Jean Castex said restaurants, cinemas and museums would remain closed throughout January and ski resorts might not reopen before the February holidays as France cranked up its vaccination rollout.
A nationwide nightly curfew was being extended until at least Jan. 20, said Castex, adding that he could not rule out a further nationwide tightening of measures at a time hospitals remain under severe pressure.
One in two intensive care beds are occupied by Covid-19 patients and non-essential procedures are still being postponed to ease the burden on hospitals.
“It is out of the question that we lower our guard,” Castex told a news conference.
Castex said restaurants would remain shuttered until mid-February at the earliest.
The coronavirus has claimed more than 66,500 lives in France, the seventh highest death toll in the world. Health Minister Olivier Veran said France was closely tracking cases of the new British and South African variants of the virus.
Nineteen cases of the British variant have been identified in France, the minister said, including two particularly worrying clusters in the greater Paris region and Brittany.
France will continue to limit entry to France from Britain to French citizens and returning residents in possession of a negative COVID-19 test.
Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2021