France Holds Fast on Lockdown as Hospitalizations Rise
Visitors form a queue outside a Covid-19 test center outside Gare de Lyon railway station in Paris, France. (Photographer: Adrienne Surprenant/Bloomberg)

France Holds Fast on Lockdown as Hospitalizations Rise

French coronavirus victims needing hospital treatment rose to a record, stiffening the government’s resistance to easing lockdown restrictions early.

Hospitalizations rose by 737 to 32,683, climbing above the previous April 14 high, after the country reported record infections in the past three weeks, health authorities said on Thursday. Earlier, French Prime Minister Jean Castex ruled out relaxing the nation’s curbs, dashing the hopes of many retailers.

“My role is not today to give in to pressure,” he said.

New French measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic, introduced late last month, are due to end Dec. 1. Under the rules, non-essential stores were forced to close again. While France is starting to see signs that the virus spread is slowing, it’s too soon to relax, Castex told reporters in Paris. President Emmanuel Macron had pledged to review some of the current restrictions should virus figures improve.

In countries like France and Ireland, retailers are pressing governments to allow them reopen early. French toy retailers, for example, pleaded with the government to allow them to open their doors this week.

“Our survival depends upon this,” the French Federation of Toys Retailers said in a letter to the prime minister, Agence France-Presse reported on Wednesday.

The week is a critical one for France, Castex said, adding that any acceleration in the spread of the virus could mean even tougher measures. Still, the prime minister said he’s hoping a slowdown in new infections will be confirmed, which may result in a peak of hospitalizations early next week.

The weekly pace of infections fell for a fifth day, according to health authority data.

The impact of the pandemic “is very heavy,” Castex said. “The pressure on our health system has increased and is extreme.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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