France Weighs Implementing a Weekend Lockdown for Paris

France is considering tougher restrictions for the economically-powerful Paris region to contain the coronavirus.

Speaking Tuesday, Prime Minister Jean Castex declined to be specific but said worsening indicators were pushing the government to work on a potential lockdown during weekends. The government will discuss possible restrictions at a cabinet meeting Wednesday, Castex said.

“The time has come to envisage measures,” he said in an interview on BFM TV. “The situation in the Paris region is at a very precarious equilibrium.”

The French capital has been under a nightly curfew since mid-January with cafes, restaurants, bars and theaters closed in an effort to contain a resurgence in the infection rate.

But the infection rate has climbed all the same. More than 400 people out of every 100,000 people in the Paris region have tested positive over the past week, a threshold Castex has described as alarming. Intensive-care units in and around the capital are now nearly full, forcing the state to transfer patients to other hospitals around the country.

France, like other countries, is counting on vaccines to bring the pandemic under control, but the suspension of the AstraZeneca Plc shot after a health scare is raising doubts about the strategy.

France’s suspension followed a similar one by Germany and other EU countries to assess possible side effects, and came only hours after Castex himself had said to trust the vaccine. The country is ready to resume using the shot again if the European Medicines Agency advises that it’s safe, which could happen on Thursday.

Castex said on BFM that he hopes the EMA will approve the Astra shot.

France’s vaccination campaign started at the end of December, focusing first on the elderly and most vulnerable citizens. Less than 8% of the population has received at least one jab. President Emmanuel Macron has previously said that all adults willing to get the vaccine would be able to do so by the end of the summer.

Despite delivery delays for the Astra vaccine, France will have given the first jab of one of the vaccines to 10 million people by mid-April, Castex said. He pledged he would get inoculated with the Astra shot himself if the EMA finds it safe.

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