By: V4 Agency
The president announced that restrictions already in force in départements with high infection rates will be extended across the country. As a new measure, schools will be closed for several weeks.
In his address delivered at 8 pm on Wednesday, Emmanuel Macron touched upon several issues, such as the extension of the nationwide lockdown by four weeks, school closures, and the scheduling of the country’s vaccination drive.
The president began his speech by detailing coronavirus figures, pointing out that the number of lives the virus has claimed will soon reach 100,000 in France. He noted that a growing number of patients in critical condition are young, adding that 44 per cent of patients connected to ventilators are aged below 65. To provide care for patients in serious condition, the capacity of ICUs equipped with ventilators must be increased to 10,000 beds in the coming days, he said.
Help from medical students, retired healthcare workers, soldiers and volunteers is needed to meet this target, based on a tweet posted recently by the president.
The lockdown measures currently in force in 19 départements will be extended across France from Saturday, for four weeks. Accordingly, a nationwide night curfew will be in place from 7 pm to 6 am. There will be a ban on travelling farther than 10 kilometres from home without a written certificate, and remote working – if and where possible – is strongly advised and encouraged. The president, however, added that people are allowed to travel between regions during the Easter weekend, with the planned travel restrictions taking effect on 5 April.
Mr Macron also touched the issue of education. As expected, educational institutions will close for at least three weeks. The country will switch to online education on 5 April for a week, followed by a two-week Easter holiday. Education will resume on 26 April, but only in kindergartens and the first four grades of primary school. Those above will first go back to school on 3 May.
Parents who need to watch their children whilst having a job that cannot be performed from home are entitled to partial unemployment benefit. This will be prolonged for all employees and entrepreneurs who currently rely on this type on social benefit.
Speaking about the vaccination campaign, Emmanuel Macron stressed that over 8 and a half million people had already received the first dose and 3 million had been administered the second jab. The president reiterated his earlier statement that the vaccination of the population should continue at the highest possible rate, also on weekends and holidays. Currently, those aged over 75 are being vaccinated, he said. People aged between 60 and 70 will be vaccinated from mid-April, those between 50 and 60 are to be inoculated from 15 May, while those younger than 50 can receive the jab in mid-June. The French government plans to vaccinate every registered citizen over the age of 18 by the end of the summer.
Finally, the French head of state also commented on hotels, restaurants and cultural venues that had been closed for months. The terraces of bars and restaurants are expected to reopen in mid-May under certain conditions, with cultural venues, sports and leisure centres, cafés and restaurants to be reopened gradually between mid-May and early summer.