A third national lockdown had been expected and the public had been forewarned last week that the nightly curfew was not enough to bring down the number of coronavirus cases in the country.

However, the French government decided instead to tighten border controls and close the biggest hypermarkets.

Exceptional reasons to be allowed to enter France from a non-EU country, including the UK, are now very limited indeed, unless the traveller is French or the holder of French residency. Monaco residents are counted as European and are not affected by the more stringent measures.

The other arm of the new controls is the closure of all shopping centres of more than 20,000 square metres from Saturday night, January 30. There are 396 in France, with the nearest to Monaco being the Cap 3000 centre next to Nice, which boasts 135,000 square metres, has recently been renovated, and claims to be the oldest shopping centre in Europe.

There is widespread speculation that President Macron stopped shy of another lockdown because the public mood in France would not accept it.

PHOTO: Cap 3000