France imposes lockdown in Paris region as COVID cases surge

Familiar lockdown sights in Paris with quiet streets and closed shops, although schools and essential business can open.

Video Transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING]

NATACHA BUTLER: It was clear from the number of people exercising and jogging by the River Seine in Paris that people were making the most of being allowed outside. The government's imposed a third lockdown on the city and 15 regions, but this time people aren't required to stay indoors all day.

- [SPEAKING FRENCH]

- We have to work all week, so thankfully we can go outside. It's a necessity. It helps morale to be able to share some good moments.

- [SPEAKING FRENCH]

- We need to adapt again, which will be painful in the days to come, but we have to get on with it and hope it gets better.

NATACHA BUTLER: In other parts of Paris, a more familiar lockdown sight. Quiet streets, closed shops and businesses, although schools and essential stores can stay open.

- [SPEAKING FRENCH]

- Shopkeepers and small business owners are at the point of exhaustion after more than a year of yellow vests, strikes, now three lockdowns in some regions. It's too much.

NATACHA BUTLER: COVID cases are rising in France, with almost 40,000 new infections a day. Intensive care units in Paris hospitals are full, so some patients are being transferred elsewhere.

The French government says that parts of France are battling a third wave. They hope that the regional restrictions will help avoid another national lockdown by helping to stop the spread of the virus, and winning time for more people to be vaccinated.

On Friday, the French prime minister Jean Castex received an AstraZeneca jab, in an attempt to convince the public of its safety after months of negative publicity and a temporary suspension. Vaccine skepticism is high in France, but at this immunization center the queues were long.

- [SPEAKING FRENCH]

- I'm fine with the AstraZeneca, but it's normal that some people are worried because of the recent events. But I think confidence will return in the coming weeks.

NATACHA BUTLER: For some doctors the restrictions aren't tight enough, but French President Emmanuel Macron says the economy and people's mental health must also be considered. For now, the new lockdown is set to last one month, however, many people suspect it could run much longer. Natacha Butler, Al-Jazeera, Paris.