New COVID-19 restrictions to impact French growth: minister

French Economy and Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire speaks during a press conference to present the details of new restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), announced the day before by the president, in Paris, France

New COVID-19 restrictions in France will impact economic growth this year but it is too early to say by how much, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Friday.

President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday ordered France into its third national lockdown and said schools would close for three weeks as he sought to push back 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 evalutaion 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 per month.

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

France reported more than 50,000 new COVID-19 infections on Thursday and 308 deaths, while the number of people in intensive care units rose to 5,109.

Le Maire repeated his calls for the European Union to accelerate 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.

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