France reviews options for tighter COVID-19 restrictions: sources

France imposes a new nightly curfew, in Nice
Elizabeth Pineau

By Elizabeth Pineau

PARIS (Reuters) - French authorities are looking at options for still tighter measures to fight COVID-19, which has kept spreading in the country despite some of the strictest restrictions in Europe, according to three sources familiar with the government's thinking.

France two weeks ago imposed a daily curfew that runs from 9:00 p.m. (1900 GMT) to 6:00 a.m. Two industry sources in contact with the government said officials are now looking at measures including starting the curfew earlier, confining people to their homes at weekends except for essential trips, and closing non-essential shops.

Under the scenario officials are examining, those measures would apply to the Paris region, and two other cities badly affected by the virus, Marseille and Lyon, according to the two sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

A third source, close to the government, said those measures were among a range of options which will be presented this week to President Emmanuel Macron. But the government source said no final decision had been taken, and other options are possible.

France's presidential administration said in a statement Macron would chair a meeting of his COVID-19 task force on Tuesday morning; the prime minister would hold consultations with political groups, employers and unions later that day; and another task force meeting would take place on Wednesday morning.

Previously, new COVID-19 restrictions have been announced after meetings of the task force. The statement included no details on what measures were under consideration.

France on Sunday reported a record number of new confirmed COVID-19 cases in a 24-hour period, with 52,010 new infections.

Scientists say confirmed cases are up in part because of more widespread testing, but health ministry figures also show the proportion of people who return a positive result is up too, at 17 % of those tested.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Pineau; Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by David Gregorio)