French Prime Minister Jean Castex warned Monday that France could impose further restrictions — including a lockdown — as the coronavirus is spreading rapidly, and the situation in hospitals is deteriorating there.
In an interview with news broadcaster France Info on Monday, Castex said the country was facing a "strong" second wave of new infections and urged that all citizens be mobilized, saying, "There can be no more slackening."
The government announced nine large cities, including Paris and Marseille, will be placed under maximum virus alert beginning Tuesday. While local governments have objected, bars and other public establishments will be closed in those areas. Castex called on French residents to limit private gatherings in their homes.
The prime minister said the French Defense Council will meet this week to examine epidemiological data “to see if there is a reason to go farther.” He said a "general lockdown" of the country "must be avoided by all means," but said no option is being excluded.
President Emmanuel Macron is expected to address the nation later Monday.
According to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, France currently has 732,434 infections and more than 32,600 deaths. It ranks second in Europe behind Spain in the number of cases.