Extension of the braking measures to the entire metropolitan territory for one month, increase in hospital capacity to 10,000 intensive care beds, synchronization of the school calendar and start of the reopening schedule for mid-May, these are the main announcements on Wednesday 31st March 2021.”The health crisis that we are going through has been going through for more than a year”, notes Emmanuel Macron when starting his intervention. 4.5 million French people have contracted the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, nearly 100,000 families are bereaved by Covid-19. “If we stay united (…) then we will see the end of the tunnel,” he adds.
After a “hard confinement” for the first wave, an “adapted confinement” for the second wave, it is a relaxed confinement which does not speak its name to face the third wave induced by the Brittany variant.
“Believing in the responsibility of the French is never a gamble”
The Head of State first justified himself on the decisions made at the start of the year aimed at avoiding a third confinement, thus highlighting the three principles which guided the choices of the executive: security (protecting French), balance (take into account the consequences of restrictions) and responsibility (trust). He recalls that the Germans have been in confinement for four months and that the Italians have experienced four confinements spread over time. “We have gained precious days (…) without ever losing control of the epidemic, (…) we have therefore done well, (…) believe in the responsibility of the French, it is never a bet”, assures- he does.
Hospital capacity increased to 10,000 intensive care beds
Now comes the characterization of a new situation: “we have entered a speed race” with, on the one hand the deployment of vaccination, on the other the spread of a new form of virus which spares no expense. no metropolitan area. “The virus is more contagious and more deadly,” warns Emmanuel Macron. 44% of intensive care patients are under 70 years old.The President of the Republic concedes that the braking measures introduced in nineteen departments constitute “too limited efforts”, hence “a new framework”. It is a question of “continuing to protect the lives of patients in the present and to protect the lives of children in the future” with an “additional effort”.
Effort of caregivers. The number of intensive care beds already increased to 7,000 will be increased to 10,000 beds by mobilizing all available staff as well as students and the health reserve.
Travel restriction 10 km from home until May 2
Effort of the population: “the rules in force in the 19 departments in enhanced vigilance will be extended to the entire metropolitan territory from Saturday evening for four weeks” (so until May 2). “Everyone must be careful not to shut themselves up but to limit contacts and meetings as much as possible”, adds the Head of State.
Concretely: the curfew is maintained everywhere, teleworking must be “systematized”, businesses will be closed according to the list defined for the first 19 departments in enhanced vigilance (see below).
Those who wish to change region have until Monday, April 5 to do so, those who wish to return to France will be able to do so “at any time”. So no travel outside his region after April 5, unless there is a compelling reason.
A derogatory certificate will only be requested for trips more than 10 km from home. A certificate remains necessary for all traffic during the curfew period, from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m.
“Controls will be tightened to limit gatherings and to regulate alcohol consumption. We choose trust, responsibility, breathing ”, insists Emmanuel Macron. For the Easter holidays, it is a question of avoiding gatherings and celebrations with friends.
Synchronization of school holidays from April 13 to 25
Effort at school level. “Yes, the virus is circulating in schools but no more than elsewhere”, concedes the President of the Republic, immediately adding: “the school is not negotiable”.
Nurseries, schools, colleges and high schools will be closed for three weeks. Until Saturday April 10, lessons will take place at a distance except for the children of caregivers, of certain professions and for children with disabilities who will be physically accommodated in establishments.
On April 12, all of France will be on spring break. The start of the school year will take place on April 26 face-to-face in nursery and primary schools, and in secondary schools and high schools. On May 3, return to school for colleges and high school students face-to-face with adapted gauges.
Emmanuel Macron sees this as “the most suitable solution to curb the virus while preserving education and therefore the future of our children”.
Students who wish will be able to attend classes one day a week.
Extension of economic support
Faced with this, “economic and social support will be there”. As during the first confinement, partial activity will be granted to parents who cannot keep their children.
The economic support mechanisms will be extended quickly indicates the Head of State as if the obvious.
“We did everything to make these decisions as late as possible when they became strictly necessary,” Emmanuel Macron is still justified.
“We are going to become the first continent in the world in terms of vaccine”
On the vaccination side, 8.5 million people received a first injection of the coronavirus vaccine and, among them, 3 million received two doses. “The vaccine is effective after two weeks,” recalls the head of state who wants to “accelerate again and again” vaccination on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.
For this, a strategy: “to continue to have more and more doses by accelerating our purchases and by producing in France and in Europe. (…) We are going to become the leading continent in the world in terms of vaccines ”.
“Guarantee of our effectiveness”, the strategy of vaccinating the oldest and most vulnerable people as a priority is maintained. “This is how we will save lives,” insists the President of the Republic.
Those over 70 can be vaccinated with a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna dose in the 1,700 vaccination centers. Those over 55 with co-morbidities can make an appointment with a doctor, pharmacist or nurse for a dose of Astra Zeneca and soon Janssen.
People over 75 who have not yet had an appointment will be called by Health Insurance.
On April 16, vaccination will be open to over 60s. May 15, over 50. Those under 50 will wait until mid-June.
There will be a “specific vaccination strategy” for exposed professions such as teachers and law enforcement.
“Key to reconnecting with life, key to reopening our country”, the vaccination campaign should make it possible to vaccinate all those who wish it by the end of the summer (therefore mid-September).
Reopenings in mid-May
Some places of culture and some terraces of bars and restaurants may reopen in mid-May. By mid-June, a timetable will be established for a gradual reopening of other cultural venues and other restaurants with “strict rules”.
“We could have done better, we have mistakes, it’s true. (…) We held on, we learned, we improved, ”recognizes Emmanuel Macron, sliding towards the conclusion of the speech. It is now a question of “mobilizing ourselves for our elders and the most vulnerable, mobilizing ourselves for our children and continuing to teach them.” The success of this month of April and this strategy depends on each of us. We will stand united and determined ”.
Photography Alain Bollery
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