Non-essential retail across France closed for at least a month

French president Emmanuel Macron has announced the closure of non-essential retail across France for at least a month as the country tries to contain spiralling cases of the Covid-19 virus.

Macron’s move, which also includes the closure of schools for three weeks, comes after 19 departments, including the Paris region, were ordered to close last week. The new measures come into force on Saturday.

The President has resisted calls for a third national lockdown as Covid-19 cases reach 40,000 a day but admitted this evening: “We will lose control if we do not move now.”

France has so far recorded more than 95,000 deaths from Covid-19 and certain regions are reporting that hospitals are becoming over-stretched with patients as the third wave of the virus hits.

The country has been more successful than others in managing to keep its education system running throughout the pandemic but Macron is taking advantage of the Easter holiday to effectively put in place an extended break.

Other measures in place in France include the continuation of a 7pm curfew and “systematic” home working. Macron is avoiding calling the new measures “lockdown” and they are less draconian that the measures during the first lockdown. Written “attestations” (effectively sworn declarations about the reasons for leaving the house) are not required for local movements but they will be needed for journeys beyond 10km from homes.

In the UK stores are due to re-open in England from 12 April with many having been closed since before Christmas. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said at the start of the week that he saw no reason in the data for UK cases that would prevent this from happening.

Today the UK recorded 4,052 cases (down 1,553 week on week) and 43 deaths (down by 55 week on week). The number of patients in hospital sits at 4,176 (down 1,247 week on week) with more than 46% of the population having received at least one dose of vaccine.

Johnson has warned the UK public not to be complacent about the third wave washing over Europe as it is not yet clear how solid the UK’s defence is from the vaccines.