Paris: French citizens in the north of France are getting ready to observe a weekend lockdown after authorities announced the measure on Thursday (March 4).

France extended COVID-19 weekend lockdowns to the region around the Channel coast town of Calais, following similar lockdowns around Nice and Dunkirk.

The lockdown will be in place in the Pas-de-Calais department, which counts 1.4 million residents in northern France, from this weekend.

The streets of Arras are expected to be empty as of Friday night (March 5) until Monday (March 8) early morning.

France plans to massively expand COVID-19 vaccinations in high-risk zones. The country aims to vaccinate at least 10 million people by mid-April, 20 million by mid-May and 30 million by the summer, Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Thursday.

France registered 25,279 new coronavirus infections on Thursday, bringing its total of cases to 3.84 million, and 293 more deaths, for a total death toll of 87,835.

Cases have been rising at a steady weekly rate of just above 4% since early January, although this is far below rises of more than 20% seen before and during a nationwide lockdown in November.