towards a gradual exit from confinement before Christmas

Faced with a slight improvement on the front of the Covid-19 epidemic, the executive meets on Wednesday to prepare for the release of the second confinement but already warns that the relaxation will be gradual.

A new National Defense and Security Council (CDSN) focused on the health crisis is planned for the morning around Emmanuel Macron and Jean Castex, before the Council of Ministers.

On the menu, an equation from which many questions arise: how to loosen the grip without running the risk of relaunching the circulation of the virus and being forced into a third confinement?

Even if the bar of two million confirmed cases since March has been exceeded, “the epidemic is slowing down”, confirmed the Director General of Health Jérôme Salomon on Tuesday evening. But “hospital pressure remains very strong”, with “an unprecedented number of 33,500 Covid patients” on Monday, which fell slightly to 33,170 on Tuesday.

Among these patients, more than 4,800 were in intensive care on Tuesday, for a total of patients in shifts, all pathologies combined, greater than 8,000, well above the capacities before the health crisis (around 5,000 places). The daily rate of hospital deaths is not slowing down either, with 437 new deaths recorded in 24 hours.

Emmanuel Macron should speak in the middle of next week, but a source close to the executive already ensures that “deconfinement will be gradual”.

In front of the deputies, the Prime Minister also warned that “braking provisions (…) will continue”, pleading to “avoid the stop and go”, while conceding that “perhaps we have deconfined a little too quickly” in spring.

Sports halls should be able to accommodate minors from December 1 and worship could also resume on that date, with health restrictions.

But the question of the reopening of so-called “non-essential” businesses has not yet been decided: for the moment they must be satisfied with online sales and by appointment, and are calling for a recovery from November 27, the day of the gigantic commercial operation of “Black Friday”.

– Increase in depressions –

The situation is even more difficult for bars and restaurants. For them, the government spokesman, Gabriel Attal, only promised “prospects at the beginning of December”, and they fear to remain closed until 2021. A disaster for these establishments but also for the sectors of supply like that of poultry and foie gras.

Should we immediately maintain the limit of one hour and one kilometer for walks, a rule attacked by EELV before the Council of State? Then, at Christmas, will trips to meet up with family be allowed? The government has yet to decide, even if the SNCF says it is already “ready” for the school holidays.

Beyond deconfinement, the government will have to respond to the challenge of improving the strategy for screening and isolating infected people, thanks to the deployment of antigenic tests, after the failure of the triptych “test, trace, isolate”.

The executive will also have to set up a massive vaccination campaign. While the vaccines are still in the testing phase, government spokesman Gabriel Attal said 1.5 billion euros had been budgeted for 2021.

If he welcomed the slowdown in the epidemic, Jérôme Salomon worried Tuesday evening about the consequences of the health crisis for mental health in the French population.

We thus observe “a significant increase in depressive states”, which affected twice the number of people at the beginning of November compared to the end of September, from 10 to 21% within a representative sample of the population surveyed by Public Health France.

The increase is “even more marked among people in difficult financial situations, people with a history of psychological disorders, the inactive and young people,” noted Jérôme Salomon.

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