PARIS – Lockdown-type restrictions will apply throughout France and schools will be closed for three weeks in April in an attempt to contain the third wave of the coronavirus, French President Emmanuel Macron announced Wednesday evening.
“You know we did everything to make these decisions as late as possible,” Macron said, addressing the nation on TV. “In recent weeks we have faced a new deal,” he added, referring to the release of new variants.
“We have started a race [between] on the one hand, the deployment of vaccination [and] on the other, the spread across Europe of a new form of virus, ”he said, referring to the variant originating in the UK, which he called“ an epidemic in the United Kingdom. epidemic ”.
His government has issued more restrictions on several occasions since the end of January, but always stopped before imposing a full lockdown – a word Macron avoided on Wednesday.
From Saturday, the strict measures already in place in parts of the country – including the Paris region of Ile-de-France and much of the north – will be extended to apply to all of mainland France. and Corsica. These include the closure of non-essential stores and a 10-kilometer limit on non-essential travel in addition to an existing nationwide curfew at 7 p.m.
Students will not be returning to school in person next week, with middle and high school students switching to online education. Kindergartens and primary schools will reopen physically first on April 26, followed by secondary education the following week.
Macron also offered an unusual mea culpa on his government’s handling of the pandemic.
“We made mistakes” in handling the coronavirus crisis, he said.
More specifically on vaccines, “there have been delays, there are things that we have corrected,” he added. His government has faced backlash for the slow start of its vaccination campaign.
But, Macron added, “we will become the number one continent in the world in terms of vaccine production. He reiterated his commitment to vaccinate every French adult who so wishes by the end of the summer.
Macron also announced that he would announce a much-anticipated roadmap for the reopening of cultural sites, restaurants and cafes from mid-May.