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France has stopped short of ordering a third lockdown, for now, opting instead to seal its borders for travellers coming from outside the EU and close large shopping centres.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex announced the measure on Friday night after an emergency government health security meeting, warning of a “great risk” from the new varients.
From Sunday travel restrictions are amping up, said the PM, and all passengers arriving by air or sea from countries within the European Union will be required to produce a negative virus test, with the exception of cross-border workers.
France’s borders will be closed to countries outside the EU, including the United Kingdom, for “non-essential” travel.
It is hoped the measures will help avoid another lockdown.
“We can still give ourselves a chance to avoid confinement,” Mr Castex said at the Elysee Palace.
But he warned “the question of a containment is legitimately raised” due to the number of Covid-19 cases the country is dealing with, stressing that “the next few days will be decisive”.
France saw nearly 23,000 new Covid infections on Friday and a high level of entries to hospitals and intensive care units.
In addition to the travel restrictions, Mr Castex announced the closure of all non-food shopping centres above 20,000 square metres in size.
He also said the country would be strengthening controls on the 6pm curfew, as well as parties and illegal openings of restaurants, so that “the excesses of a few do not ruin the efforts of all”.
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