(BBC) – French Prime Minister Jean Castex has announced a new evening curfew will begin nationally across France starting at 18:00 (17:00 GMT) Saturday.
The move is a tightening of a curfew already in place since December, which restricts movement from 20:00-06:00.
Announcing the measure on Thursday, Mr Castex described the country’s situation as “worrying” with infections remaining at a “high plateau”.
He also announced new restrictions for people arriving into the country.
All those arriving from outside the EU will now have to test negative for the virus within 72 hours before their travel into France, and then isolate for seven days and test negative again, Mr Castex said.
The border controls are partly to limit the extent to which new mutant strains of the virus spreading abroad can become dominant in France. There is particular concern over the more transmissible variant first detected in the UK – which the French health minister says now accounts for about 1-1.5% of new cases nationally.
“We must do everything to prevent this variant from spreading in France,” Health Minister Olivier Veran told a Thursday news conference.
France has so far recorded more than 69,000 coronavirus deaths – the seventh-highest death toll in the world.
Situation ‘still fragile’
The new national curfew will stay in place for at least 15 days and means everyone must be home, unless they are returning from school or work, by 18:00 every day.
All shops and businesses will have to close at that time, except for emergency services.