French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday announced a new lockdown in order to halt an alarming acceleration of COVID-19 cases, which will take effect from Thursday night until “at least December 1,” reported AFP. 

During a televised address, Macron said that under the new lockdown, bars, restaurants and non-essential businesses will be forced to close. However, unlike during the two-month lockdown imposed earlier, students will continue to go to school.

Also read: Germany orders new shutdowns in virus fightback: Angela Merkel

He said that factories and farms will also be allowed to operate along with some public services, to limit the economic damage that would come from shutting down the country completely.

Macron said, “The virus is being transmitted across France at a speed that even the most pessimistic did not predict. Like last spring, you will be able to leave your home only for work, for a doctor’s visit, to help a relative, do essential shopping or go out shortly for air.”

According to Macron, written statements justifying being outside will be required, suggesting that fines will again be issued for offenders. He said, “If in two weeks, we have the situation under better control, we will be able to re-evaluate things and hopefully open some businesses, in particular for the Christmas holiday.”

He added, “I hope we’ll be able to celebrate Christmas and the New Year with family.”

France, like several other European countries, has seen a surge in coronavirus cases that could soon overwhelm the country’s hospitals. Over 3,000 intensive care beds now hold COVID-19 patients, a number according to Macron, is poised to reach around 9,000 in November.

Macron said that France would scramble to increase the number of available intensive care beds to 10,000, up from around 5,800 currently.