France will introduce a general night-time curfew as it continues failing to meet its targets in the battle against the spread of Covid-19.
Prime Minister Jean Castex told a news conference the infection rates were not falling as fast as the government had hoped after a new lockdown was imposed in late October.
A stay-at-home order will be lifted as planned on Dec 15 and the daily curfew will be brought in, from 8pm each night until 6am.
To prevent super-spreader crowds gathering, the curfew will be enforced on New Year’s Eve but will be waived for Christmas Eve when families will be allowed to celebrate but with no more than six adults together.
The government had set 5,000 new daily cases as the target for easing restrictions but new cases remain at least double that. On Thursday, there were 13,750 infections.
“We are not yet at the end of this second wave, and we will not reach the targets we had set for Dec 15,” Castex said. “We can’t let down our guard. We have to stay focused and find our way through the next few weeks.”
Museums, cinemas and theatres as well as sports venues were expected to reopen on Tuesday but will now remain closed for an extra three weeks.
Bars and restaurants will remain closed at least until Jan 20.
The measures were criticised by some in the arts world, who said “culture is once more being left on the side of the road”.
France has confirmed more than 2.3 million cases and nearly 57,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.