As of midnight Friday, March 19, Paris, along with other populous areas of France, have been put under month-long lockdown measures as the country faces an uptick in COVID-19 infections. France recorded 35,000 new cases in just 24 hours, which does not bode well.
I thought we’d be past this, but here we are still. France had their last “wave” in October and November of 2020. Now they’re anticipating another, which means enacting strict measures yet again.
Paris Lockdown March 2021
The COVID-19 variant first encountered in Britain now accounts for ~75% of new cases. The impacts to ICUs, especially in Paris, could be hard hit. The infection incidence in Paris has climbed above 4 per 1,000, which could cause quite a bit of strain in the French capital.
The measures being enacted include the full closure of non-essential businesses. This includes furniture stores, barbers, and clothing stores, among others. Grocers and other stores selling necessities will be able to remain open. Schools will also remain open. Travel within France will be restricted, with residents unable to travel more than 10 kilometers from their homes except for an essential reason. A nationwide curfew is in place as well, which starts at 19:00 every evening.
This third lockdown isn’t a stringent as the past two, but it is the third time the city has experienced this. The government is hoping to roll out vaccination quickly; however, French confidence in the problematic AstraZeneca is abysmally low, with only 1 in 5 being confident in the product after its suspension. Use of this vaccine is supposed to restart soon.
Thoughts About Summer
Given that other European countries are ramping up for a summer that does include holidays this year, it is unfortunate France is facing yet another wave. The European Union will likely be rolling out a COVID-19 travel certificate for travel within the bloc. Summer travel in 2021 is on far shakier ground than I expected.
As COVID-19 continues, the prognosis is poor for the airlines. Stocks for European airlines fell yesterday. People need to know whether they can travel in order to book a summer holiday. If that is up for debate, bookings will remain down and airlines will remain in poor shape. Some may not survive another year without additional cash injections. Some airlines are only planning to fly ~50% of their 2019 capacity. This could even be hopeful if we see a resurgence in the disease.
Personally, I think Latin America and the Caribbean will be the choices for American travelers this year. This is where we see the most open or partially open countries, and I don’t expect things to change much, which makes them a much better bet if you’re from the U.S. I traveled to Colombia during the tail end of their January spike, and much of the country was open for business.
I know many people are itching to go somewhere this year. Europe could end up being more problematic than I expected it would. But I’m sure there will be good options somewhere!