France may have to delay unwinding some of its COVID-19 restrictions next week after signs the downward trend in new cases has flattened out after shops were allowed to reopen late last month, according to government sources.

Even though the government’s condition for the number in intensive care to fall below 3,000 was met, the downward trend in new cases has plateaued at between 10,000 and 12,000.

“That the numbers have levelled off is not good news”, one government source said. Another government source added that there was a link between shops reopening on November 28 and the stagnant numbers.

He added that the government would consider options such as not reopening theatres and cinemas as planned on December 15 as well as introducing an earlier curfew than the 9 pm one initially envisaged.

When asked if it would be too early to ease lockdown rules next week, Jerome Salomon, the health ministry’s top official, said that the next few days would be critical: “We are facing a powerful wave”, he said.

Health experts have also warned that if the French were careless over Christmas and year-end holidays there would be a third wave of the virus in mid-January.


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