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Exodus from Paris as Parisians say new lockdown is ‘a bit too much’

Parisians arrive to catch trains leaving from the Gare Montparnasse serving the west and southwest of France

Parisians were racing to leave the city ahead of a new coronavirus lockdown coming into effect at midnight tonight as the country grapples with soaring case numbers.

From midnight, the capital will be plunged into a month-long lockdown, while another 15 regions in France will be placed under the same measures.

Desperate commuters were seen flooding into train stations across the city, as people looked to beat the deadline to reach other, less restricted parts of the country.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex said the measures will not be as strict as the previous lockdown, with people allowed to exercise outdoors.

However, only essential shops will remain open, while anyone travelling more than 10km from home or in the evenings will need to fill out a form.

At the Montparnasse train station, Anna Henry, a 21-year-old student, said she had decided to go to her parents’ place in Brittany, western France, describing the latest Paris lockdown as “a bit too much”.

Anthony Massat, 23, also a student, was catching a train to Toulouse in south-western France: “There’s no lockdown in the south, so it will be a bit more free.”

France reported 35,000 new cases on Thursday and there were more Covid patients in intensive care in Paris than at the peak of the second wave,

The chaotic scenes came at the same time Mr Castex received the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine today – but the country has moved to limit its use to only people aged 55 and over.

The vaccination was broadcast live on national television in an effort to restore confidence in the jab after its use was paused in France and several other European countries this week.

Despite the European Medicines Agency (EMA) confirming the jab is “safe and effective”, and not associated with a higher blood clot risk, France’s medical regulator said it should not be given to under-55s.

Its recommendation was based on the fact that the reports of blood clots that had prompted the suspension had only been seen in those aged under 55.

Dominique Le Guludec, head of the regulator, told a press conference that blood clot cases in those who had received the vaccine were “very rare” but “serious”.

Three other vaccines – Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson – have been approved for all French adults and will continue to be administered.

Germany has also resumed using the AstraZeneca vaccine, with Italy set to follow suit. Cyprus, Latvia and Lithuania have also started administering it again, while Spain and Canada are also set to resume jabs.

However, Finland has moved to suspend its use while it investigates two possible cases of blood clots, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare said earlier today.

The institute estimated its investigation would take at least one week.