France and Italy are set to expand viral restrictions as Europe struggles to contain a sharp rise in infections due to new variants.
The resurgence of the epidemic is a setback for governments, whose plans to bring life back to normal and revive their economies have already been hampered by a slow rollout of the vaccine in the European Union. The French virus spike was particularly severe, and Germany and Spain last week imposed border restrictions on travelers from the country.
French President Emmanuel Macron is due to address the nation at 8 p.m. KST and plans to announce tougher measures at that time, according to people familiar with the matter, who have asked not to be identified. . An inter-city travel ban and school closures are possible, which, with current measures, would actually amount to a new lockdown, people said.
In Italy, Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s government will extend current restrictions on the movement and openings of businesses in high-risk areas until the end of April 30, according to a draft new decree seen by Bloomberg News. Additional measures include the need to make vaccination compulsory for medical personnel. The cabinet will meet around 5.30 p.m. in Rome.
A full lockdown for France would represent a reversal for Macron. He had favored a localized approach and his rejection of advice for stricter measures earlier could be politically damaging a year into the presidential elections. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced a major turnaround in Easter restrictions, undermining her party’s position with voters.
Merkel said Germany will stop using AstraZeneca Plc vaccine for people under 60 from Wednesday. The policy change, approved by regional health ministers, came after the release of new data on potential side effects.
The EU gave some reason for optimism on Wednesday, announcing that 107 million Covid vaccines will have been delivered by the end of this week, reaching the bloc’s target of shipping 100 million doses during of the first three months of the year. The milestone was confirmed by European Commission spokesperson Dana Spinant and reported earlier by Bloomberg News.
It is a rare vaccine for the EU, which is seeking to step up a slow inoculation campaign that is lagging behind Western countries such as the UK and US.
In the meantime, as governments wait for vaccines to be administered, tighter restrictions are deemed necessary.
“The key factor in our decision is the situation in the hospitals,” Attal said. About 5,000 people are now receiving intensive care, a level above the peak reached in November last year, during the second wave of the epidemic. “Triage of patients is not an option,” he said.
And the country reported more than 250,000 new cases and 1,700 deaths last week.
Regional lockEarlier this month, the French government placed more than a third of the country, including the Paris region, under a lighter lockdown. The UK went through a similar process last year, abandoning a four-tier strategy that turned out to be too complicated and didn’t work to contain infections.
Prime Minister Jean Castex will speak in parliament during a debate and vote Thursday on the measures needed to fight the epidemic, according to Macron’s party.
Macron’s administration had also insisted on keeping schools open over the past year, unlike many European neighbors.
So far, the French leader has not regretted the management of the pandemic by his government and his decision to postpone new brakes as long as possible.
In January, Macron ignored advice from his health minister who began to advocate for tighter restrictions. Instead, the government imposed a nationwide curfew, closed shopping malls, and added traffic restrictions. It was earlier this month that the government shut down much of the country, although some outdoor activities were encouraged.
the hope was that the pessimistic scientific predictions would not materialize. But they did.
(Updates with information from the Italian draft decree in the fourth paragraph.)