France Can’t Afford Another Lockdown If Covid Returns, PM Says

France’s new government would seek to preserve the economy should a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic force it to bring back lockdown measures, Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Wednesday.

“We won’t survive, economically and socially, an absolute and generalized lockdown,” Castex told BFM TV and RMC radio, adding that he advocated more targeted restrictions.

With the World Health Organization advising countries to prepare for a second wave of pandemic spread, it’s a balancing act that officials around the world are also contemplating. But with public finances already battered by the first wave, the tradeoffs look increasingly bleak.

States across the U.S. recorded new highs in cases and deaths on Tuesday, with total infections in the country approaching 3 million. In Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro tested positive as the crisis in Latin America’s largest economy escalates. In Europe, violence flared in Serbia after confirmation that the capital, will go into lockdown at the weekend to confront an “alarming” spike in infections.

Recovery

Weeks of business and transport closures enforced to limit the spread of Covid-19 has left France reeling. National statistics body INSEE estimates that the economy will contract by about 9% this year, but cautioned that a second wave would hold back a recovery.

Localized lockdowns is increasingly becoming a way to combat the virus’s spread while allowing for life to continue, and some have already come into effect -- in Leicester in the U.K., in Lerida, near Barcelona in Spain, andin parts of Lisbon, Portugal.

French health authorities continue to urge people to do their bit and wear masks and respect safe distances. Jerome Salomon, the country’s director general for health, told Le Figaro newspaper that limiting travel could be another solution.

Castex was appointed prime minister on Friday ahead of a wider reshuffle of Emmanuel Macron’s government. Following criticism of his handling of the health crisis, the French president has repeatedly pledged to “re-invent” himself. He’s set to lay out new policy plans on July 14.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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