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France closes borders to non-EU countries but stops short of imposing new lockdown

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By Euronews  with AFP
French Prime Minister Jean Castex announced new measures to fight COVID-19
French Prime Minister Jean Castex announced new measures to fight COVID-19   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Christophe Ena

France is to close its borders to countries outside the European Union from Sunday, but has stopped short of imposing a new lockdown as the country continues to battle the spread of coronavirus.

Prime minister Jean Castex announced new measures on Friday, that will prohibit entry from non-EU countries “unless there are compelling reasons”, as he told France there was still a chance of avoiding another lockdown.

"We can still give ourselves a chance to avoid confinement," he said at the Elysee Palace at the end of a Defence Council meeting.

He warned “the question of a containment is legitimately raised” due to the number of COVID-19 cases the country is dealing with, stressing that “the next few days will be decisive”.

Those entering the country from the EU will need a negative PCR test the exception of cross-border workers.

On top of the travel restrictions, he announced a strengthening of controls on the 6pm curfew which is currently in place nationwide, parties, and the illegal opening of restaurants, so that "the excesses of a few do not...ruin the efforts of all".

An "instruction of particular firmness will be applied for those who defraud the rules in force," Castex said.

Non-food shopping centres of more than 20,000 square metres will also be shut.

France saw nearly 23,000 new COVID-19 infections on Friday and a high level of entries to hospitals and intensive care units.