Paris (AP) – With strict exit restrictions across the country, France is stepping up its fight against the second wave of the corona pandemic. The restrictions must apply from Friday, announced the head of state Emmanuel Macron in a televised speech Wednesday evening.
The 42-year-old made it clear that the restrictions were less stringent than in the spring, when public life in the country was largely paralyzed. Schools should therefore remain open. Bars, restaurants and “non-essential stores” will however have to close. The exit certificates for citizens that are customary in the spring must return. Traveling to other parts of the country is not easily possible either – but there should be exceptions on weekends for those returning from fall vacation.
People should be able to continue working and working from home is a priority. Measures are initially limited to December 1. “Stay home as much as possible. Respect the rules, ”Macron told his compatriots. In French, he used the expression “confinement”, which can also be translated as lockdown.
Macron has made it clear that the situation is dire. “We are overwhelmed by the accelerating epidemic,” he said. The development is also affecting other European countries. He announced a debate and a vote in parliament for Thursday.
The new restrictions are not unexpected for some 67 million French people. Government spokesman Gabriel Attal had already announced a “new step” before the speech of the Head of State. “The second wave is here,” the spokesperson said after a cabinet meeting. Everything must be done to avoid being overwhelmed by this wave. Macron also discussed the corona situation twice in two days in a national security council.
So far, there is a nighttime curfew for around two-thirds of the population, or around 46 million people. The corona situation in the country has worsened considerably for weeks. More recently, more than 36,400 new infections were counted in 24 hours.
The number of coronavirus-related deaths has increased dramatically – on Tuesday evening, authorities reported 523. This returned to the high level of April. On Wednesday evening, authorities cited 244 deaths, the total number now standing at nearly 35,800.
Spokesman Attal said that in two weeks, a situation similar to that at the height of the first wave of epidemics threatens hospital intensive care units. At that time, the exit restrictions in France were among the strictest in Europe, schools were closed.
The head of state addressed the citizens only two weeks ago. Around this time, he announced nighttime curfews for Paris and other metropolitan areas.
Later, the central government of Prime Minister Jean Castex extended the restrictions to 54 departments and the overseas territory of French Polynesia. Criticism of the government’s crisis management came from the opposition. It felt like “constant improvisation,” influential Tory MP Eric Ciotti wrote on the short Twitter post.