Paris has stalled again after a third wave of Covid and a stalled vaccine rollout.
The capital and parts of the north were locked for months on Thursday to curb the spread of highly contagious coronavirus variants.
Since late January, when President Emmanuel Macron opposed calls from academics and some members of his administration to lock down the country, he has said he will do everything possible to keep the eurozone’s second largest economy as open as possible.
However, he ran out of options this week when France and other European countries stopped using the AstraZenca vaccine – although France will resume vaccinations today.
The rapid spread of the variant, first discovered in the UK, which now accounts for three-quarters of all cases in France, has filled intensive care units, particularly in the Paris region, where the incidence rate exceeds 400 out of 100,000.
Prime Minister Jean Castex said at a press conference that France is now in the grip of a third wave.
“The time has come to go further,” he said.
The lockdown will take effect from Friday at midnight in the 16 hardest hit areas of the greater Paris area, the northern Hauts-de-France region, the Seine et Marne and the southern Alpes-Maritimes zone.
Schools remain open and people are allowed to exercise outside within 10 km of their homes.
People living in these areas are not allowed to travel to other parts of France without compelling reason.
Stores selling essential goods and bookstores will remain open, according to Reuters.
Macron did not order a nationwide lockdown, although the Paris region is home to almost a fifth of the population and a third of economic activity is absent.
A nationwide night curfew has been in effect since mid-December, but it begins an hour later at 7 p.m.
The government has not regretted not having a lockdown earlier this year, Castex said.
“It was the right decision in January. We would have had a three-month embargo. We did well not to.”
Castex said France would resume vaccinations with the AstraZeneca vaccine after the European Medicines Agency said it was safe and he would get the shot on Friday.
“I am confident that public confidence in the vaccine will be restored,” he said.
Government spokesman Gabriel Attal said on Friday: “There is no reason for France to reject AstraZeneca / Oxford University’s Covid-19 vaccine.”
More than a dozen nations, including France, had stopped using it after examining reports of blood disorders.