World Incidents

COVID-19: France imposes weekend lockdown on southeastern region

Residents of France’s southeastern region of Alpes-Maritimes will be under lockdown over the next two weekends following a surge in COVID-19 cases, authorities announced on Monday.

The local lockdown measure comes on top of the national nighttime curfew running from 6:00pm to 6:00am. Residents will only be allowed out for an hour during the daytime within a five-kilometre radius from their home and for a very limited set of reasons. These include essential shopping, visiting a doctor, carrying out physical activity and walking pets.

The lockdown area will impact about 90 per cent of the Mediterranean region’s 1.1 million inhabitants and includes the cities of Cannes, Nice and Menton.

Prefect Bernard Gonzalez told reporters that the region has the country’s highest incidence rate with nearly 600 cases per 100,000 population. He said hospital wards are close to being overwhelmed and described the situation as “very worrying.”

Shops with a surface of over 5,000 square metres have also been ordered shut from Tuesday for at least 15 days, while the number of people allowed at any given time in shops of over 400 square metres has been reduced to one person for every 15 square metres down from 10 square metres.

Checks at the border with Italy will also be reinforced, as well as those carried out at airports, with Gonzalez said, raising the possibility of testing every passenger on certain flights.

Nice mayor Christian Estrosi said on Twitter that he is “satisfied” with the latest announcement. “Everything must be done to protect our Nice’s inhabitants and our département,” he added.

With more than 84,300 lives lost to the pandemic, France is the world’s seventh worst-hit country and the third in Europe after the UK and Italy.