France says will delay easing of lockdown if necessary

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PARIS (Reuters) - France will delay relaxing some COVID-19 lockdown restrictions if necessary to stave off a third wave of infections, government spokesman Gabriel Attal said on Wednesday.

France is due to reopen cinemas, theatres and museums and allow citizens to move between regions on Dec. 15, but there are signs it may not meet preconditions to enter into the second phase of rolling back the curbs.

“If we consider that ... we must modify this second phase (of lifting lockdown measures), then of course we will do it,” Attal told CNews television.

President Emmanuel Macron will discuss the matter with senior ministers on Wednesday. He had originally set a target of 5,000 new infections per day and fewer than 3,000 COVID patients in intensive care before the lockdown could be eased.

The numbers in ICU nationwide hover just above 3,000 but are consistently falling. However, the downward trend in infections has flattened, with the number of confirmed new cases rising to above 13,000 on Tuesday.

Health officials acknowledge the 5,000 target is almost certainly beyond reach by Dec. 15.

Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Andrew Heavens, Andrew Cawthorne and Kim Coghill