French Government Delays Decision on Third National Lockdown

The government says a decision will be taken “in the coming days” on whether to impose a third lockdown. It would be a further blow on the fragile situation of ski resorts but may be needed to prevent deaths and hospitals being overrun.

This morning the Defence Council met to examine the way forward.

A decision will be taken “in the coming days” on whether to impose a third lockdown on France, the government spokesman said after the meeting of ministers.

Cases in the country continue to spread and parts of the Alps in south east France are seeing some of the highest number of cases.

The head of the scientific council, Professor Jean-Francois Delfraissy, said earlier “there is an emergency” and this week was critical.

He called for swift government action, amid rising concerns about the spread of new variants of the coronavirus.

The new more transmissible variant first detected in the UK now makes up between 7-9% of cases in some French regions.

He said it will be hard to stop and described as the “equivalent of a second pandemic”.

“If we do not tighten regulations, we will find ourselves in an extremely difficult situation from mid-March,” he added.

Government sources had since dampen the speculation and now said a decision would be taken shortly.

They stressed that there were no immediate plans for President Macron to make another televised address.

“We need to be certain that there are no other solutions than lockdown,” said an Elysée source.

It is reported that President  Macron wants to see a full two weeks of data from the national curfew, and that would push a decision past Saturday.

The government said there will be consultation with parliament and unions in the next few days.

An opinion poll for BFMTV suggests 52% are opposed to a new lockdown and 48% in favour.

France already has a national 6pm – 6am curfew and ex-interior minister Christophe Castaner worries a new lockdown could lead some people to civil disobedience.

Last week the government announced that ski resorts could not start their lifts at the beginning of February.

The Secretary of State for Tourism, Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, went on to add that “the prospect of reopening in mid or late February” also seems “highly improbable”.

French ski lifts to remain shut into February and likely beyond

The resorts and alpine businesses reacted with dismay, but some focused on the fact that hotels could remain open and travel mostly allowed.

“We are doing as much as we can to offer a fabulous holiday to the (French) families that want to travel here, with a wide range of non-skiing activities and entertainment on offer,” said Sara Burdon from the Morzine Tourist office.

Resorts in France are turning their attentions to attracting people with other activities on offer.

With cross-country skiing, ski touring and snow shoeing allowed these areas have been growing.

Guy Beaumont in action at Joux Plane

One British cross-country instructor, Guy Beaumont, who works in France told us about a sharp rise in the number of lessons he has been giving.

Much of this though would go with another national lockdown.

Currently there are restrictions and a 6pm curfew, but they do not seem to be doing enough to bring down the levels of Covid-19 and the new variant brings more problems.

Schools remain open and restaurants are able to offer a takeaway service.

At the weekend France introduced new border rules.

Anyone entering France from inside the EU by air or ferry must now present a negative Covid-19 test result within 72 hours of travel.

Those entering France from the EU by road are not be required to take a test.

Ski resorts are watching the situation closely.