Speaking in a televised address after meeting with President Emmanuel Macron and senior ministers; Castex said that officials had decided against introducing a new national lockdown in a drastic bid to curb new Covid infections.
Instead, tighter border controls are being introduced alongside tougher action against covid rule-breakers.
“We know the grave impact [lockdown has]. Tonight, looking at the data of the past few days; we consider that we can still give ourselves a chance to avoid one;” the PM said, while outlining the new measures.
He said that, starting from midnight on Sunday, a ban will be in place on anyone arriving from outside the EU; or leaving France for a non-EU country, apart from essential travel.
Travelers coming in from EU states will need to show evidence of a negative PCR test.
Meanwhile, working from home must be supported wherever possible by companies in France, Castex added.
More police will be mobilized to ensure adherence to the existing 12-hour overnight curfew, Castex said; warning that “particular firmness” would be shown to anyone not complying, or who was gathering for illegal parties.
“As of this Sunday, non-food shopping centers with a surface area of more than 20,000 square meters; which most favor the mixing of populations, will be closed,” he added.
France is among the countries hardest-hit by the pandemic; ranking sixth in the world for Covid cases and seventh for deaths; according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. More than 3.2 million cases have been recorded by French health workers; with over 75,700 people dying with Covid.
Meanwhile, the state’s vaccine drive has hit stumbling blocks due to shortages in supplies from Pfizer and Moderna; with some French regions suspending new inoculations temporarily; so as to guarantee second doses for those who have already received their first.