Cities across France are threatened with ANOTHER lockdown as infections rise and EU-backed vaccine roll-out crawls forward

  • Health minister Olivier Veran said that further restrictions may be required 
  • These are likely to impact Nice and surrounding areas within the coming days
  • It comes after France reported 24,116 new coronavirus infections on Friday alone

Multiple cities across France could face even tougher lockdown measures amid a rapid spread of coronavirus infections, the health minister has said.

Olivier Veran told reporters this morning that further restrictions on movement might be required in Nice and the surrounding areas within the coming days.

He said decisions about possibly further tightening limits on people’s movements will be taken over the weekend.

Mr Veran, who was speaking during a visit to a health centre in Nice, added: ‘There are a few cities and areas in France where the virus is circulating much more quickly than elsewhere and this may require regional confinement measures.’

It comes after France reported 24,116 new Covid-19 infections on Friday – an increase of nearly 4,000 on the previous Friday. 

France also recorded 571 new deaths from the virus, taking the cumulative death toll to nearly 84,000. 

Meanwhile, the EU-backed vaccine roll-out continues to crawl forward after it was announced on Thursday that Pfizer had failed to deliver 10 million Covid jabs to the EU that were due in December in the latest blow to the bloc’s supply following its row with the UK over AstraZeneca.

Olivier Veran told reporters this morning that further restrictions on movement might be required within the coming days. Pictured: Group of friends have drinks on the banks of the Seine river in Paris earlier today

It comes after France reported 24,116 new Covid-19 infections on Friday – an increase of nearly 4,000 on the previous Friday. Pictured: Friends gathered in Paris earlier today

The French government has generally favoured nationwide lockdown measures over localised restrictions since the start of the pandemic.

Following its second national lockdown in November, France imposed a nationwide 8pm curfew – which was tightened to 6pm in mid-January.

But Mr Veran said that the nationwide trend of coronavirus infections had continued to worsen in recent days.

France reported 24,116 new infections on Friday, an increase of nearly 4,000 on the previous Friday. 

The seven-day average of new infections rose above 19,000 per day after falling to about 18,300 a week ago. 

The new restrictions are likely to impact Nice and the surrounding areas. Pictured: Groups in face masks walk on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice

France also reported 571 new deaths from the virus on Friday, taking the cumulative death toll to nearly 84,000. Pictured: Friends drinking in Paris earlier today

France also reported 571 new deaths from the virus, taking the cumulative death toll to nearly 84,000. 

Christian Estrosi, the conservative mayor of Nice, who accompanied Veran on his visit, said: ‘If the government decides we need to go to a partial lockdown, for instance each weekend, I will support it and encourage it.’ 

Meanwhile, the EU-backed vaccine roll-out continues to crawl forward after it was announced that Pfizer had failed to deliver 10 million Covid jabs to the EU that were due in December in the latest blow to the bloc’s supply following its row with the UK over AstraZeneca.

On Thursday, Brussels admitted that it was one-third short of the supply it had expected from the US firm.

It’s the latest setback for the EU’s flailing vaccine rollout which last month saw Brussels launch bitter attacks on Britain and UK-based manufacturer AstraZeneca, accusing the pharmaceutical giant of reneging on contractual obligations.

The gulf prompted former Belgian PM and EU cheerleader Guy Verhofstadt to concede this week that the bloc’s vaccine efforts had been a ‘fiasco.’

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has tried to shift blame on to the vaccine makers for not delivering enough doses. 

Christian Estrosi (right), the conservative mayor of Nice, welcomed Health Minister Oliver Veran (left) on his visit earlier today

Following its second national lockdown in November, France imposed a nationwide 8pm curfew – which was tightened to 6pm in mid-January. Pictured: Fishmongers, wearing protective face masks, working at a local market in Nice

Elsewhere in France, the Louvre remains closed almost four months after it shut its doors on October 30 in line with the government’s virus containment measures.

Before the pandemic, the museum, which is home to the 518-year-old Mona Lisa, boasted up to 30,000-40,000 visitors every day with some staff walking out after complaining about overcrowding. 

The first national lockdown brought all Louvre activities to a halt but the second has seen some 250 of the museum employees remain fully operational. 

Elsewhere in France, the Louvre (pictured) remains closed almost four months after it shut its doors on October 30 in line with the government’s virus containment measures 

The forced closures have granted museum officials a golden opportunity to carry out long-overdue refurbishments.   

An army of curators, restorers and workers are cleaning sculptures, reordering artifacts, checking inventories, reorganising entrances and conducting restorations, including in the Egyptian Wing and the Grande Galerie – the museum’s largest hall that is being fully renovated.

Laurent le Guedart, the Louvre’s Architectural Heritage and Gardens Director, said: ‘We’re taking advantage of the museum’s closure to carry out a number of major works, speed up maintenance operations and start repair works that are difficult to schedule when the museum is operating normally.’

Initially, only visitors with pre-booked reservations will be granted entry to the Louvre in line with virus safety precautions. 

But others are still able to take virtual tours online.

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