French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday announced a new coronavirus lockdown until at least December 1, in hopes of bringing an epidemic that is about to overwhelm hospitals in a matter of days under control.
“The virus is spreading across France at a speed that even the most pessimistic did not predict,” Macron said in a much anticipated televised speech.
He admitted that a curfew for Paris and other major cities imposed two weeks ago had failed to stop a second wave of cases which brought the death toll in France to nearly 35,000.
“Like elsewhere in Europe, we are overwhelmed by a second wave which will likely be more difficult and deadly than the first,” Macron said.
“If we didn’t do anything … in a few months we would have at least 400,000 more deaths,” he said.
Already more than 3,000 intensive care patients are forcing hospitals to scramble to find beds, and “whatever we do, almost 9,000 people will be in intensive care by mid-November,” he said. warned.
The Sante Publique France health agency on Wednesday reported 244 new virus deaths in the past 24 hours, and more than 36,000 new positive tests.
“The economy must not stop”
Starting Thursday evening, bars, restaurants and non-essential businesses will be forced to close and written statements will be required for people to leave their homes.
“Stay home as much as possible and play by the rules,” he insisted.
But unlike the two-month lockdown imposed last spring, students up to high school will continue to attend school.
Universities, which have been behind several virus clusters since September, will only have online courses.
Factories and farms will also be allowed to operate, and some utilities will operate, to limit the economic damage that would result from the complete shutdown of the country.
“The economy must not stop, nor collapse,” Macron said, although working from home will be the norm for businesses that can accommodate it.
He pledged additional financial relief for businesses, acknowledging that many hoped to stay open ahead of the crucial holiday season that now looks threatened.
“If in two weeks we have a better handle on the situation, we will be able to reassess things and hopefully open some businesses, especially for the Christmas holidays,” he said.
“I hope we can celebrate Christmas and New Years with the family,” he said.
‘Hope it works’
Macron held crisis meetings with key ministers this week as doctors increasingly warned that only another lockdown would effectively slow the outbreak.
Parliament will be invited to vote on the new measures and Prime Minister Jean Castex will hold a press conference on Thursday to provide further details.
But the government may again have to call on the military to set up field hospitals to relieve overwhelming hospitals – at the height of the epidemic last spring, France also had to transfer some patients to the hospital. ‘Germany, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Austria.
Macron had been reluctant to impose a new lockdown that would once again rage on the economy, and business leaders have warned that a shutdown will inevitably lead to another wave of layoffs and bankruptcies.
“Things already looked gloomy, and now they are getting darker,” said Grégoire Marcotte, a 28-year-old bartender in Paris’ 10th arrondissement, after Macron announced the lockdown.
“Let’s just hope this time it really works,” he said.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by GalacticGaming staff and is posted from a syndicated feed.)