French Minister Rules Out New Lockdown as Delta Spreads

France must “live with the virus” rather than count on a new lockdown to contain the spread of a new variant of Covid-19, a key ally of President Emmanuel Macron said ahead of a presidential address.

The country could reintroduce limits on the number of people allowed in bars, restaurants and other venues, and extend the use of the so-called “health pass,” junior minister for European affairs Clement Beaune said on Europe 1 radio Sunday.

“We must live with the virus, and this means we don’t close everything again and positions aren’t as hard as they used to be, because we have the vaccine,” Beaune said. Because of that protection, from September some Covid tests may not be reimbursed, and more activities may be conditioned on having a pass that proves a person has tested negative or been immunized, he said.

In a radio interview later Sunday, Health Minister Olivier Veran warned that cases could multiply fast as a new wave takes hold.

“The nearly 4,700 cases France reported Saturday “could become 6,000 in a week, 10,000 in 15 days and rise above 20,000 in early August if we do not act,” Veran said, adding that France was “4 weeks behind” the U.K., where case numbers have soared.

In his speech on Monday evening, Macron is expected to ring the alarm about the rapid spread of the more contagious delta variant in France.

He’s also expected to outline his priorities for the rest of his mandate, including whether he’ll go ahead with his controversial pension reform proposal before his term ends in May 2022.

Delaying an overhaul of pensions by six months “wouldn’t be such a big deal,” Beaune said. “When and where -- this is the president’s decision and it will depend on the health situation.”

He called the recent setback of Macron’s party in regional elections last month a “big defeat” but said it was “not a referendum on the pension reform.”

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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