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Health

French PM tells paper: now is not the time to relax COVID measures

FILE PHOTO: A closed tourist souvenir shop is seen before the national lockdown introduced as part of the new COVID-19 measures to fight a second wave of the coronavirus disease, in Paris, France, October 29, 2020. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

PARIS (Reuters) - It is not the right time to relax restrictions imposed upon France to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, French Prime Minister Jean Castex told Le Monde newspaper in an interview published on Thursday.

Castex, who is due to deliver a keynote speech on Thursday at 6pm local time (1700 GMT), also told Le Monde that even though there were signs of a tapering in the COVID-19 figures in France, “it is certainly not the moment to loosen the reins.”

France reported 35,879 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, taking the total to 1.86 million and making France the worst affected country in the European region in terms of COVID cases.

The number of French deaths from COVID-19 also rose by 328 to reach a total of 42,535.

France is almost two weeks into a new, national lockdown, which has hit the economy, but some politicians are hoping that if the country’s COVID-19 figures improve, France may be able to re-open major shops and businesses for Christmas.

“What I wish is that we can save December for retailers... What will dictate the decision of the prime minister and of the president is the protection of the safety of the French population,” French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told BFM Business radio on Thursday.

Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta, Editing by William Maclean

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