Schools closed for three weeks, re-closure extended to the entire country, and financial aid was renewed …
Emmanuel Macron requested, on Wednesday evening, in a televised speech, as was expected upon his arrest, a final attempt by the French to finally get out of the health crisis.
At the beginning of his speech, the President of the Republic declared, invoking “acceleration”, “If I am speaking to you this evening, it is a call to mobilize everyone for this month of April when much is being done.” The COVID-19 pandemic.
Then the enhanced measures, which have so far only affected 19 provinces, will be extended to cover the rest of the region for a period of one month. It mainly concerns the 7 pm curfew, the closure of unnecessary businesses, the systematic work from afar, and the ban on traveling more than 10 kilometers from the home.
For their part, kindergartens, primary and secondary schools will be closed for three weeks, before the gradual return of the semester scheduled at the end of April.
“I know that this reorganization involves profound changes for the parents of students and families, but it is the most appropriate solution to curb the virus, while preserving education and thus the future of our children,” the head of state said.
During the process, Emmanuel Macron announced an extension of financial aid to individuals and businesses affected by the restrictions, starting with parents who will be forced to stay home while schools close.
These new measures come as the situation deteriorates in French hospitals, where the symbolic limit of 5,000 patients in intensive care has been exceeded.
Pressure was mounting on Mr. Macron to decide in favor of a full regroup. Its strategy to reconfigure domestically did not bear the expected fruits, as the country was hit hard by the third wave.
The opposition leveled criticism at doctors and scientists, who blamed him for not acting early, despite the emergence of the more contagious British variant, and the particularly slow vaccination campaign at the start.
Too little too late, doctors say
For some, this extra turn of the screw comes too late.
This is the case of SNUipp-FSU, which accuses the government of failing to make introductory decisions that would have avoided closing schools again.
The really unfortunate thing is that we did nothing in France to prevent this, because we did nothing to prevent the spread of the virus in schools, because our protocol is not completely preventive.
Jesslyn David, SNUipp-FSU spokesperson
For his part, Emmanuel Macron admitted “mistakes” in managing the health crisis. However, he refused to implement the “mea culpa” because he decided, at the end of January, not to reconfigure the entire country, while nearly half of the French said they were hostile to this option.
On a more optimistic note, he announced the start of a return to normal, with some cultural venues as well as terraces of bars and restaurants reopening, starting in mid-May. A glimmer of hope as the vaccination campaign speeds up and the promise of a vaccine for all French who want it “at the end of the summer” So far, only 8 million French have received their first dose of the vaccine, or about 12% of the population.
Presidential elections are on the horizon
The prospect of ending the crisis is good news for Emmanuel Macron, as the 2022 presidential election approaches.
We are entering a very mined area. Because now, every decision will be scrutinized, “confirms Olivier Ile, professor of political science at the Institut de la Sciences Po Grenoble.
A poll published by Odoxa on Monday revealed that 61% of French view Emmanuel Macron as a bad president, while 70% are critical of the government’s management of the health crisis.
But unlike Angela Merkel, who is not running for office in Germany, or Boris Johnson, who has three years left in the UK, the French head of state has only one year to get people to forget his failures and regain the favor. For public opinion.
The political expert concludes, “It is an additional pressure.”
France recorded 335 additional deaths, Tuesday, according to official data, showing the death toll of nearly 95,000 since the beginning of the health crisis.
With Agence France-Presse
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