Closure of schools for three to four weeks, extension of restrictions to the entire metropolis, limited travel: Emmanuel Macron announced on Wednesday a new turn of the screw in the face of the Covid-19 epidemic, calling on the French to “provide an additional effort” but without strict confinement. Thanks to this “mobilization of everyone in April”, the Head of State promised the reopening of certain places of culture and the terraces of bars and restaurants from mid-May. This hoped-for return to normal will be made possible thanks to an acceleration of the vaccination campaign. And in particular its extension to all people over 60 on April 16, then to all over 50 on May 15 and finally all under 50 from mid-June. “The success of this strategy depends on our spirit of responsibility,” insisted Emmanuel Macron during this 24-minute televised address, announced the same morning as the health situation has deteriorated for several weeks. The strongest announcement is the closure of nurseries, schools, colleges and high schools for three to four weeks while the executive had made the continued opening of schools the “totem” of its strategy. In fact, the students will follow the distance courses the day after Easter weekend, before two weeks of vacation from April 12, for all areas. The start of the school year is set for all on April 26 in physics for schools and in distance learning for colleges and high schools. “I know that this reorganization involves profound changes for the parents of students and for the families, but it is the most suitable solution to curb the virus, while preserving the education and therefore the future of our children” , pleaded the Head of State.
In recent days, calls for such a closure “have multiplied in the educational community and the political class, like the socialist mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo, citing a” very serious “health situation in the capital. was very late, there was “procrastination and we will pay dearly for it”, lamented Philippe Juvin, head of emergencies at the Georges-Pompidou hospital in Paris and LR mayor of La Garenne-Colombes.
Emmanuel Macron also announced that the restrictions in force since mid-March in 19 departments – including all those of Ile-de-France and Hauts-de France – will be extended to the entire territory for four weeks from Saturday. Non-essential shops, especially clothing, will therefore be closed everywhere, and travel will be limited to 10 km. According to Bercy, this extension will increase the number of closed establishments from 90,000 to 150,000, while the total cost of aid and compensation to companies increases to 11 billion euros per month. “This new confinement will be terrible for the closed sectors. It must be the last,” insisted the boss of Medef, Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux. But it will be possible to change region, during the day, to spend the next few weeks in a place of your choice, a tolerance which “will stop Monday evening”, said the Ministry of the Interior. From Wednesday evening, the SNCF site was taken by storm, making the reservations page inaccessible at times. Already strongly encouraged, telework will be “systematized”, added the president. “Parents who will have to look after their children and cannot telework will be entitled to partial unemployment”, according to the Head of State. Emmanuel Macron also wanted to give a message of hope. “From mid-May, we will start to open again with strict rules, certain places of culture, we will authorize under conditions the opening of terraces and we will build between mid-May and the beginning of summer, a calendar of gradual reopening for culture, sport, leisure, events and our cafes and restaurants “, he announced. A horizon that should give balm to the hearts of restaurateurs, who have closed their establishments for six months.
Under the pressure of increasing criticism from many doctors and oppositions, Emmanuel Macron admitted to having “made mistakes” in the management of the crisis, after having refused all “mea culpa” for having decided at the end of January not to reconfine. “At each stage of this epidemic, we could tell ourselves that we could have done better, that we made mistakes. All of this is true,” he admitted. “But I know one thing: we held on, we learned, and we got better every time.” Prime Minister Jean Castex was to defend these measures on Thursday and provide details by addressing both chambers of Parliament, before a debate followed by a vote.
More than ever, Emmanuel Macron is counting on a massive arrival of vaccines in April to overcome the crisis. The goal of having vaccinated all adults by the end of the summer is confirmed. For this acceleration, the government can rely on the arrival of the fourth vaccine, that of Johnson & Johnson, of which approximately eight million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine will be delivered by the end of June, including 500,000 doses in April, a indicated the Ministry of Health. So far, some 8.2 million first doses and 2.8 million seconds have been injected in France.
Emmanuel Macron has also promised “additional reinforcements” in intensive care to cope with the influx of serious patients from Covid-19 and to go “in the coming days” to more than 10,000 beds, against 7,665 currently. Among the first political reactions, Marine Le Pen judged that “the measures announced by Macron result in particular from a vaccine Waterloo for which he does not assume responsibility”. It is “at the same time” at its peak, criticized Guillaume Peltier, number two of LR: “to confine without confine, to close schools without closing them, to win the battle of vaccination but without vaccine, to support our caregivers but without way”. Jean-Luc Mélenchon denounced him an “inconsistent” program of measures.
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