As restrictions start to ease in other parts of the world, European countries are locking down again. Paris and 15 other areas of France with a total population of 21 million will be on lockdown as of midnight Friday, though restrictions won't be as tight as they were during the country's two national lockdowns, the BBC reports. People will be allowed to exercise outside up to 6 miles from home. Schools and essential businesses—which, in France, include bookstores—will be allowed to stay open. French authorities say case numbers are rising sharply in a "third wave" of infections, which they say is mostly due to the B117 variant first detected in Britain, France24 reports. The first national lockdown began a year ago this week and lasted 55 days.
A second lockdown began in late October and ended in mid-December, though new case numbers never reached the target of below 5,000 a day; around 38,000 new cases were reported Thursday. "The second wave did not end, the lockdown was interrupted too soon, to let people go shopping for Christmas," French epidemiologist Catherine Hill tells CNN. Vaccine rollout has been slow in European Union countries, especially after numerous countries suspended use of the AstraZeneca vaccine over concerns about blood clots. In Germany, authorities are warning that an "exponential" rise in cases is threatening to overwhelm hospitals, the Guardian reports. Authorities say variants are behind rising case numbers. Ditto in Poland, which entered lockdown on Monday as it battles its own third wave. (Germany announced Friday that it is lifting the suspension of the AstraZeneca vaccine.)