Now is not the time to ease Covid-19 restrictions, says French PM

It is too early to relax lockdown measures imposed to curb a galloping second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, French Prime Minister Jean Castex told Le Monde newspaper ahead of a keynote speech later on Thursday.

Castex, who will hold a news conference at 6pm local time (GMT+1), said there were early signs of a tapering in the Covid-19 figures in France.

However, he told the French daily, “it is certainly not the moment to loosen the reins.”

France reported 35,879 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, taking the total to more than 1.86 million, the fourth-highest tally in the world.

The number of French deaths from Covid-19 also rose by 328 to reach a total of 42,535.

New infections in the first three days of this week totalled just over 78,000, compared with over 129,000 in the first three days of last week.

France is almost two weeks into a new, national lockdown, which has hit the economy, but some politicians are hoping that if the country’s Covid-19 figures improve, the country may be able to re-open major shops and businesses for Christmas.

On Thursday, Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said the crucial Christmas season could be saved, provided people abide by the restrictions until then.

“What I wish is that we can save December for retailers… What will dictate the decision of the prime minister and of the president is the protection of the safety of the French population,” Le Maire told BFM Business radio.

“We could have a dynamic December” if the population sticks to current guidelines, he added.

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