| 17 April 2024, Wednesday |

New COVID-19 restrictions to impact French growth: minister

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire announced on Friday that the new coronavirus restrictions in France will impact economic growth this year but it is too early to say by how much.

On Wednesday, President Emmanuel Macron ordered France into its third national lockdown, saying schools would close for 3 weeks as he sought to ward off a third wave of COVID-19 infections that threatens to overwhelm hospitals.

“These measures will impact economic growth in 2021. We are in the process of assessing it. There will be a new evaluation in the coming days”, Le Maire told CNews television when asked if he was sticking to the government’s economic growth target for this year. It has forecast growth of 6% for 2021.

Le Maire reiterated that the new lockdown measures would force the temporary closure of 150,000 businesses at a cost of 11 billion euros a month.

On Thursday, Bank of France Governor Francois Villeroy de Galhau said he did not expect the new restrictions to take a toll on the bank’s forecast of 5.5% growth in 2021, provided the restrictions do not last beyond early May.

France reported over 50,000 new coronavirus cases on Thursday and 308 deaths, while the number of people in intensive care units jumped to 5,109.

Le Maire urged again the European Union to speed up the implementation of its economic stimulus plan.

“Europe must understand that we must move fast and that the stimulus funds promised to European citizen must now arrive in member states… In 2022 or 2023 it will be too late. The Chinese and the Americans will be ahead of us,” he said.

Though the 27-nation bloc agreed the landmark stimulus fund last summer, EU governments are still submitting detailed plans on how they aim to spend money from the fund, which many still need to ratify.

  • Reuters