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The Alpes-Maritimes will be placed in to lockdown for the next two weekends as authorities try to counteract a circulation of Covid-19 in the department that is said to be “out of control”.
The announcement was made on Monday by the Prefect of the Alpes-Maritimes, Bernard Gonzalez, and follows a visit to Nice by France’s Health Minister Olivier Veran On Saturday.
Mr Gonzalez revealed that the incidence rate in the Alpes-Maritimes is now 588 per 100,000 inhabitants, three times higher than the national average.
The situation in Nice is even worse, with the incidence rate reaching as high 735.
In an effort to slow down the contamination rate, linked to the more contagious UK variant, a number of tighter restrictions are coming in to play.
For the next two weekends starting 26th February, a lockdown will kick in at 6pm Friday and remain in place until 6am Monday. Similar to the first lockdown in March 2020, trips to buy groceries, walk the dog or get some exercise will be possible but documentation will be needed and activity is limited to a five-kilometre radius with a one-hour deadline.
The restriction will apply to municipalities stretching from Menton to Théoule-sur-Mer, and take in Nice, Antibes and Cannes.
“The coastal strip of the department is particularly concerned because it concentrates a significant mixing of the population every day,” said Bernard Gonzalez, adding that the aim is “to preserve as much as possible the populations of the valleys, already hard hit by Storm Alex” in October. Around 90% of the department’s population is therefore affected by the measure.
The prefect also announced that businesses and retail stores over 5,000 m² will be closed in the Alpes-Maritimes from Tuesday 23rd February for a period of 15 days, with the exception of food stores and pharmacies.
Border checks and random tests
Controls at the Nice Côte d’Azur airport and at the Italian border will be stepped up, said the prefect. “For foreign travelers who will arrive at the airports of the department, there will be PCR tests which can be performed on entire flights chosen at random.”
The Alpes-Maritimes is receiving 4,000 more doses of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine on Monday, adding to the 90,000 doses earmarked for the department and set to be delivered by the end of March. The next stage of the inoculation programme is also kicking into gear, with people aged 50 to 64 and suffering co-morbidities invited to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine.
GPs in France will be able to administer Covid vaccinations from this Thursday, although doses are said to be extremely limited.
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