he French government on Wednesday declared a public health state of emergency, giving officials greater powers to impose new measures to contain the spread of COVID-19.
“The COVID-19 epidemic constitutes a public health disaster which, by its character and its severity, puts at risk the health of the population,” the government said in a statement announcing the state of emergency.
“It justifies the declaration of a state of emergency so that measures can be adopted … which are strictly proportionate to the public health risks.”
The statement did not say what action the government would take, but the adoption of a state of emergency gives the authorities statutory powers to impose tough measures.
President Emmanuel Macron later, announced that France will impose a nightly curfew on almost one third of the country’s 67 million people to tackle a resurgent coronavirus, but a new national lockdown is not envisaged,
Macron announced the curfews, which will take effect from Saturday and run each night from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. the following morning, shortly after the government declared a new public health state of emergency. The restrictions will last for at least four weeks.
The president said curfews would be imposed in the greater Paris region, Marseille, Toulouse, Montpellier and five other cities.
“We’re in a second wave,” Macron said in an interview on national television. “We have to react.”
France, like other European countries, is grappling with how to slow the virus’ spread and ease pressure on a once-again strained healthcare system while keeping its 2.3 trillion euro ($2.71 trillion) economy open and protecting jobs.
On Wednesday it reported 22,591 new coronavirus cases, the third time in six days the daily tally has gone beyond the 20,000 threshold. The virus has claimed more than 32,000 lives in France.