Nice and the urban areas of the French department will enter lockdown for the next two weekends from 18:00 on Friday until 06:00 on Monday. Paper attestations will be needed for shopping trips and other essential activities.

The news came at a lunchtime press conference given by the local Prefect.

Retail spaces of more than 5,000 square metres will have to close from Tuesday, February 23, except for food outlets and pharmacies.

Mayor of Nice Christian Estrosi said he approved of the measures, which had been discussed with Minister of Health Olivier Veran when he visited Nice on Saturday.

Nice is particularly badly-hit by the coronavirus pandemic and the infection rate of close to 750 per 100,000 is three times the national French figure.

The Prefect, Bernard Gonzalez, said that a further 4,500 Pfizer vaccine doses would be added to the 90,000 already ordered but not yet delivered.

“The acceleration of the vaccination campaign is obviously necessary,” he said. He added that a “massive” amount of the AstraZeneca vaccine would also be sent to the department.

His statement makes it very clear that there is a general consensus among French officials that the only sure way out of the coronavirus crisis is an inoculation programme. Yet, it is also clear that there is a severe shortage of doses in France, and for the time being there are only promises of more vaccines rather than deliveries.

FILE PHOTO: Bernard Gonzalez