France set to impose stricter curfew measures to avoid a third lockdown

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Health Minister Olivier Veran said Tuesday that the French government is considering starting its curfew earlier in the evening in parts of the country in a bid to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Following a meeting of of the country's health task force chaired by President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday, the government has for the moment ruled out a return to a full lockdown, either nationally or at the local level.

Speaking on France 2 television on Tuesday evening, the proposal is to extend the existing 8pm-6am overnight curfew, starting it at 6pm in the regions hit hardest by the second wave of the Covid-19 virus.

The proposed changes would come into force on Saturday.

While Véran singled out four eastern regions particularly hard hit by the surge in infections, the health ministry said the extended curfew might eventually be extended to as many as 20.

Spike in 2nd wave of infection

The announcement comes as France recorded 11,395 new Covid-19 infections on Tuesday -- more than double the government's daily target to ease restrictions, 5,000.

It was also revealed that the scientific council advising the government had warned that cases could rise due to end-of-year holiday gatherings.

The number of hospitalisations for Covid-19 rose to 24,743 on Tuesday -- the highest number since 23 December.

With health workers already struggling to contain the second wave of infections, the government is under pressure to act, while avoiding another lockdown.

However, some health professionals have argued that a nationwide lockdown is precisely what is required, even if only for a few weeks.

This comes as France launched its vaccination campaign on Sunday, with nursing home residents receiving the innoculation in the first phase of the programme.