PARIS: France will impose an earlier curfew in 15 northeastern and southeastern departments from Saturday to combat the spread of the coronavirus, starting at 6pm instead of 8pm, the government said on Friday (Jan 1).
"We are taking a decision for 15 departments. In a week's time we will assess the impact of this earlier curfew on these 15 departments, on the circulation of the virus elsewhere in the country," government spokesman Gabriel Attal told TF1 television.
"Obviously if the situation were to deteriorate futher in some regions, we would take the necessary decisions. The measures are incremental and can of course - in principle - go as far a lockdown," he added.
The French health ministry on Friday reported 19,348 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours on Friday, slightly less than Thursday's 19,927 and well below Wednesday's more than one-month high of 26,457 but still far from the government's target of less than 5,000 daily additional infections.
France's cumulative total of cases now stands at 2,639,773, the fifth highest in the world. The COVID-19 death toll was up by 133 at 64,765.
It has already brought in two national lockdowns. Those measures were eased in mid-December, but restaurants and bars are off limits for now and it is not clear when they might re-open, although Jan 20 was initially floated as a target date.
ILLEGAL RAVE PARTY
Attal reiterated on Friday that theatres, cinemas and concert venues would not re-open on Jan 7.
Meanwhile in northwestern France, some 2,500 people attended an illegal New Year rave party in Lieuron, Brittany, in breach of current curfew rules and clashed with police who failed to stop it, local autorities said.
Prosecutors have opened a probe into the illegal organisation of a musical event and violence on persons of authority, the Ille-et-Vilaine prefecture said in a statement.