FFrance has again ordered a strict lockdown. President Emmanuel Macron announced on television on Wednesday evening that the nationwide curfew, which “stopped” the virus in the spring, must be reintroduced. Because France was “overwhelmed by the sudden acceleration of the pandemic,” as he admitted in his address. And he warned: “The second wave will be more deadly than the first”.
France is therefore returning to a number of restrictions: it is forbidden to visit friends and leave your own region for private purposes. Restaurants, cafes, bars, theaters and cinemas have to close again across France. The airports for flights outside the European Union will also be closed again. Anyone wanting to leave the house needs a completed paper or mobile phone ticket. Walking and driving to and from work, bringing children to and from school and kindergarten, shopping for groceries, supporting dependent persons, walking pets and certain outdoor sports are permitted.
Schools, kindergartens and cemeteries remain open
Macron and his government have given the population some relief from the curfew in the spring: schools and kindergartens will remain open, as will public service facilities, including cemeteries. Visits to the old people’s homes are also permitted. The companies should let their employees work from home as much as possible.
The new rules come into effect on the night from Thursday to Friday. They should last at least until December 1st. Macron promised the hard-hit retail, which is now forced to close again, to review the situation in two weeks in order to introduce possible relief if the pandemic recedes. The aim is to reduce the number of new infections every day from around 40,000 to around 5,000. Macron also promised further government aid such as grants of 10,000 euros per month for small businesses. The state will also help with the outstanding rent payments.
France had no choice, Macron pleaded. Experts fear that at the beginning of November almost all of the intensive care beds in France will be occupied by Covid patients. On Wednesday, patients again had to be flown from a hospital in Avignon to Brest. The government has come under severe criticism in recent weeks. The opposition lamented that you let the summer pass by inactive instead of expanding capacities in the health sector.
Macron dismissed the criticism, reporting that the number of intensive care beds in France had increased from 5,000 to 6,000. But it takes 5 years for a nurse who can be used in the intensive care unit to be trained, for an anesthetist it takes 10 years. In addition, it is not an acceptable way to let the virus spread freely because it is life-threatening and leaves “scars” on many healed people. France is one of the countries testing the most with 1.9 million tests per week, Macron said. He admitted, however, that the follow-up of cases of infection and the isolation of the sick could be implemented even more “efficiently”. The tests with results in 30 minutes should also be introduced quickly.
“We must remain united and show solidarity and must not give in to the poison of the division,” pleaded the President and added: “Stay at home as far as possible, respect the rules”. Tomorrow, Thursday, the government will present the measures in detail. Two weeks ago, France introduced an evening curfew in parts of the country that affected around two-thirds of its citizens. For 20 million French people, however, life went on largely unchanged. Now the whole country is being sent back into far-reaching isolation.