French government to consider local lockdowns as COVID virus worsens

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PARIS (Reuters) - The French government will discuss on Friday whether to impose new, local lockdowns to try to tackle rising COVID-19 while keeping economic and social activities going.

Government spokesman Gabriel Attal said on Thursday that nothing would be ruled out at Friday’s cabinet meeting, while President Emmanuel Macron said he hoped any new measures would not be too restrictive.

Macron said that while he would not want to pre-empt any decisions, he hoped current rules would allow France to tackle the virus and let people live as normally as possible.

He was referring to measures such as social distancing and the compulsory wearing of face-masks in much of France.

“We need to do it while allowing us to continue to live, such as being able to educate our children, treat other illnesses and protect other patients,” Macron told a news conference in Corsica.

France has the seventh-highest COVID death toll in the world. (

The country reported 8,577 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, the second-highest number of daily additional infections since the disease started to spread in the country at the end of the winter.

Professor Jean-François Delfraissy, who heads the scientific council that advises the government on the epidemic, said the spread of the virus was being closely monitored in big cities such as Paris and Marseille.

“We must do everything we can to avoid local lockdowns ... In these regions we could look into further restrictions of big gatherings of crowds,” he told RTL radio.

Reporting by Dominique Vidalon, Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Alex Richardson and Alexander Smith