France Imposes 3rd National Lockdown As COVID-19 Again Surges

Tanya Simon
April 1, 2021

Movement restrictions already in place for more than a week in Paris, and some northern and southern regions, will now apply to the whole country for at least a month from Saturday.

Internal projections by the Paris public hospitals authority suggest that intensive care units in the region of 12 million people may soon have to find space for more critically ill patients than ever, according to AP.

He warned the country would "lose control if we do not move now", introducing restrictions including closing non-essential shops, and shutting schools for three weeks after Easter. Under the restrictions, all municipalities move to the Red Phase of the state's COVID-19 plan, under which only essential businesses and facilities such as grocery stores, banks, critical industries, and schools, may remain open for on-premises operation. Macron defended his decision not to lock the country down then, saying people had benefitted from "precious weeks of liberty".

Today's news comes as France has seen slow rollout of Covid vaccinations and as the country is now one of the hardest hit in Europe.

"Everyone has to make sure not that they close themselves in, but that they limit, to the maximum, their contacts, meetings and time spent with others", said Macron.

Mr Macron said "the numbers are charging away from us" and France is now faced with "a race against the clock".

In his address, Macron explained that "new data coming through" means that the country must now take further action in response to the spread of the variant.

France is headed toward a nationwide lockdown to contain the epidemic, with measures that could include school closures and extending a ban on intercity travel, two people familiar with the matter said.

France's new lockdown underlines the cost of the European Union's slow rollout of anti-Covid
France's new lockdown underlines the cost of the European Union's slow rollout of anti Covid vaccines

Daily cases having doubled to around 40,000 and hospitals in infection hotspots like Paris overflowing.

The 43-year-old leader has been under fire from political opponents and many health experts in recent weeks as the rampant virus left hospitals in hotspots such as Paris overwhelmed.

The National Council of the Order of Doctorsurged Macron on Wednesday in an open letter published in the Liberation newspaper to impose "a real lockdown wherever necessary".

Seeking to offer hope, Macron said the April lockdown and a swifter vaccination campaign would allow the slow re-opening of the country from mid-May, starting with museums and the outdoor terraces of bars and restaurants, albeit under strict rules.

Meanwhile the death toll is nearing 100,000 and daily fatalities have climbed to almost 350 per day.

Stay alert to stop coronavirus spreading - here is the latest government guidance.

Macron said last week that accelerating vaccination was a "national priority", but he also admitted European nations had lacked "ambition" around vaccine procurement.

Coronavirus: More work needed to rule out lab leak theory says WHO
Next likely is direct transmission from one of the animals known to carry a similar coronavirus , such as a bat or a pangolin. The AP received what appeared to be a near-final version on Monday from a Geneva-based diplomat from a WHO-member country.

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