As France gets set to implement a new national lockdown from Friday, a government adviser has warned that the restrictions could last months.
President Emmanuel Macron said on Wednesday that France might start to ease back lockdown measures once COVID-19 infections fell back to about 5,000 per day from about 40,000 per day at present.
But the French government’s scientific adviser, professor Jean-Francois Delfraissy, said this could not be achieved quickly and restrictions may have to be extended beyond the initial 1 December deadline.
He said: ”By 1 December, we will not be at 5,000 contaminations per day. I can tell that to you straight away today. We will need more time.”
His comments come as Germany is also set to impose a four-week partial lockdown following a surge in cases and the breakdown of the country’s test and trace system, which has been overwhelmed with cases.
The UK government has so far resisted pressure to follow France and Germany in imposing another full national lockdown, despite data from Imperial College estimating there are around 96,000 new COVID infections per day in England.
Watch: New lockdowns in France and Germany as cases surge
However, communities secretary Robert Jenrick suggested that another lockdown was not ruled out entirely, telling Sky News this morning that they are “trying to avoid” one “if they can”.
Admitting that coronavirus rates are in a “bad place” all over the country, Jenrick said: “We don’t want to create a second national lockdown.
“We know that has some effect on bearing down on the virus but we also know it’s immensely disruptive in other regards to people’s lives and livelihoods and broader health and wellbeing, so we will do everything we can to avoid that situation.”
Jenrick said the new lockdowns in other European nations, including France, will have “long-term scarring effects” on people, and argued against a ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown in England.
He added: “At the moment it is our very firm view that that is not the right approach for the country, it is not a short-term measure, it is likely to be for a number of weeks.
“If it succeeded it is likely then needed to be repeated regularly – you can’t have a stop-start country where businesses are closing, people are losing their jobs, then they are having to restart again, the harm to people’s mental health and broader wellbeing, I think, would be immense.”
Jenrick acknowledged that people had been left “fatigued” by coronavirus restrictions but urged the public to “see the seriousness of the present situation”.
Watch: What is long COVID?