Prime Minister Jean Castex has urged French people to limit the number of people they receive in their homes as daily Covid-19 infections surged to nearly 27,000 on Saturday, and as Toulouse and Montpellier prepared to join other major cities as zones of “maximum alert”.
Prime Minister Castex told France Info radio Monday the battle against Covid-19 was an “endurance race”, emphasising that barrier measures and social distancing needed to be respected in private as well as public spaces.
"If everyone does their bit, we can make a difference… I can't regulate private spaces, only the owner can do that,” he said in an interview that comes a week before the start of school holidays.
Tighter restrictions will be imposed in the southern cities of Toulouse and Montpellier on Tuesday when they are upgraded to maximum alert zones, meaning the virus is dangerously active.
Meanwhile in Aix-en-Provence and Marseille, the first cities to reach France’s highest alert level, the closure of bars and sports halls, as well as reinforced sanitary protocols in restaurants and shopping centres, have been extended for a further 15 days.
‘Nothing can be ruled out’
While the government has been clear that it has no desire to reimpose a second nationwide lockdown, Castex warned that France was grappling with a “strong second coronavirus wave" and there could be “no more slackening”.
To cope with this second wave, "nothing must be ruled out" – including local lockdowns, Castex said. "I think we will have to adapt our intervention tools, according to the impact of the second wave.”
Concerning the social and economic crisis, Castex said moves to protect France’s "most vulnerable” would be announced on Saturday, the nation’s anti-poverty day. Earlier this month Castex met with anti-poverty associations.
New tracking app
Meanwhile a new and improved version of the failed StopCovid smartphone tracking application is to be launched on 22 October, Castex announced.
In its current form, StopCovid has been installed more than 2.6 million times since it was rolled out in June. This is far fewer than similar apps in the UK and Germany, which have been downloaded up to 18 million times.
Castex himself admitted last month that he had not downloaded the app’s original version.