Paris — On Wednesday, President Emmanuel Macron ordered France to blockade the country for the third time, saying the school would be closed for three weeks as it tried to push back a third wave of COVID-19 infections that could overwhelm hospitals.
Macron keeps the country open to protect the economy, with deaths approaching 100,000, intensive care units in the most devastated areas reaching limits, and vaccine deployment slower than planned I had to abandon the goal.
“If we don’t move now, we’ll lose control,” the president said in a speech to the country on television.
His announcement means that travel restrictions, which had already been in place for more than a week in Paris and some northern and southern regions, will be applied nationwide for at least a month starting Saturday.
Macron said the school would be closed for three weeks starting this weekend, apart from his promise to protect education from the pandemic.
Macron, 43, is trying to avoid the third major blockade since the beginning of the year, giving the economy an opportunity to recover last year if France can escape the pandemic without re-blocking the country. I was betting that it would be. slump.
However, more contagious strains of coronavirus have swept much of France and Europe, narrowing the options for former investment bankers.
For school children, after this weekend, learning will take place remotely for a week, after which the school will be on a two-week holiday. This is faster than planned in most countries.
After that, the nursery school and elementary school students will return to school, and junior high school and high school students will continue distance learning for another week.
“Delaying the virus is the best solution,” Macron said, adding that France managed to keep schools open longer than many neighboring countries during the pandemic.
Daily new infections in France have doubled since February, averaging about 40,000. The number of COVID-19 patients in the intensive care unit exceeded 5,000, surpassing the peak hit of the six-week blockade at the end of last year.
According to Macron, the number of beds in the emergency room will increase to 10,000.
The new blockade risks slowing the pace of France’s economic recovery from last year’s slump. According to the Treasury, it will temporarily close 150,000 businesses at a monthly cost of € 11 billion ($ 12.89 billion).
France’s retreat, the second-largest economy in the euro area, could also undermine Europe’s desire to recover quickly from a pandemic, as the US and Chinese economies do.
France’s new blockade underscores the cost of the slow deployment of anti-COVID vaccines by the European Union.
Britain, a neighboring country that divorced Brock on January 1, has inoculated almost half of its population with the coronavirus and is resuming its economy in the same way that France is declining again.
Macron said the vaccine campaign needed to be accelerated. Early suffering from bureaucratic formalism, it slowed down due to supply shortages, but only 12% of the population has been vaccinated and is gaining momentum in three months.
Macron has moved the calendar forward, saying that people in their 60s are eligible for shots from mid-April and people in their 50s are eligible for shots a month later. He said the goal of inoculating 30 million adults by mid-June remains a goal.
Macron, under strict rules, with a blockade in April and a swift vaccination campaign, in search of hope, starting from the outdoor terraces of museums, bars and restaurants, slowly starting in mid-May. Said that the country could be reopened.
“We can see how to get out of this crisis,” Macron said.
By Sudip Kar-Gupta and Geert DeClercq