French PM Pledges to Protect Economy If Second Virus Wave Hits

France’s new government would seek to preserve the economy should a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic force it to bring back lockdown measures, Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Wednesday.

“We won’t survive, economically and socially, an absolute and generalized lockdown,” Castex told BFM TV and RMC radio, adding that he advocated more targeted restrictions.

France is still reeling from weeks of business and transport closures enforced to limit the spread of Covid-19. National statistics body INSEE estimates that the economy will contract by about 9% this year, but cautioned that a second wave of the pandemic would hold back a recovery.

Health authorities are continuing to urge people to wear masks and respect safe distances to avoid a resurgence of the virus. Jerome Salomon, France’s director general for health, told Le Figaro newspaper that limiting travel could be one solution.

Castex was appointed prime minister on Friday ahead of a wider reshuffle of Emmanuel Macron’s government. The French president is seeking fresh momentum following criticism of his handling of the health crisis. He has repeatedly pledged to “re-invent” himself and is set to lay out new policy plans on July 14.





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