France Inches Toward Tighter Curbs as Virus Variants Gain Ground

More dangerous variants of the coronavirus are becoming increasingly common in France, putting pressure on the hospital system and raising the likelihood the government will soon impose tighter curbs.

Health authorities are finding more than 2,000 cases a day of new forms of the virus, up from “several hundred” at the start of January, Health Minister Olivier Veran said on Thursday, during a weekly update of the health situation.

President Emmanuel Macron has been trying to give a national curfew, which runs from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., a chance to slow the virus’s spread but he’s coming under mounting pressure to impose another lockdown, the third since the crisis began about a year ago.

“The tension on the hospitals is real,” Veran said. “The curfew doesn’t allow us to sufficiently stop the variant from developing, and if we follow the development curve of these variants, we could enter an English, Portuguese or Spanish scenario, and you’ve seen the damages that can cause.”

Macron could announce further restrictions in the coming days -- the defense cabinet, a small and close-knit group of ministers who gather around the president and prime minister, have met over weekends in the past.

Apart from a full lockdown, authorities could impose measures including extending upcoming school holidays, curbing domestic travel or implementing a lockdown on weekends, a French official said.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.