PARIS (AP) – French President Emmanuel Macron scheduled a televised address to the nation on Wednesday evening, a possible harbinger of tighter restrictions to tackle the surge in hospitalizations due to coronaviruses.
Previous nationwide lockdowns in March and October 2020 were announced by Macron in televised speeches. His office announced on Wednesday that Macron would address the nation at 8 p.m. (6 p.m. GMT), without saying what he was going to announce.
Ahead of his weekly coronavirus strategy meeting on Wednesday with ministers and aides, Macron was under increasing pressure to close schools and further restrict movement of people to ease the growing pressure on hospitals.
Total number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care in France topped 5,000 on Tuesday, the first time in 11 months that the figure has been so high
Barring a full lockdown, Macron lacks alternatives to make a major dent in the upsurge in infections that has led to growing questions about his government’s antivirus strategies. With the presidential elections scheduled for 2022, Macron must weigh both political and health considerations.
An overnight curfew across the country has been in place since January. In Paris and other areas where the virus is spreading rapidly, residents already have additional restrictions on travel as well, and non-essential stores are closed.
School closures were among the options being considered on Wednesday. They had previously been described as a last resort by the government.