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Tension In France As French President Macron Announces Nationwide Lockdown Amid Rising Covid-19 Cases

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French President Emmanuel Macron

French president Emmanuel Macron has announced a nationwide lockdown to tackle surging cases of Covid-19.

The new restrictions will come into force on Saturday, 3 April, and last at least a month, Mr Macron revealed in a national TV address on Wednesday evening, 31 March.

“We will lose control if we do not move now,” he said.He said non-essential shops across France will close from Saturday and that schools will shut for three weeks. “It is the best solution to slow down the virus,” he added.

France had closed its schools for two months during the first Covid-19 lockdown. But they were left open during the second lockdown in November and have been kept open since, although with some limits on attendance numbers.

A nationwide 7 pm- 6 am curfew will also be in place. The tough move is a departure from the government’s policy in recent months, which has focused on regionalised restrictions.

The new restrictions were announced after the number of coronavirus patients in intensive care in France surpassed 5,000 on Tuesday.

The figure is the highest number this year and more than when France went into its second lockdown in November.

Mr Macron asked the French public to avoid gatherings over the Easter period.

“During this period that is being marked by a number of religious events, I know that I can count on you to avoid private gatherings, parties, with friends, family and people who are near and dear”, he said.

“And I really insist on that point because it is on those occasions that we contaminate ourselves.”

Thousands of schools have closed and the government shut non-essential stores 10 days ago and limited people’s movements in Paris and other regions grappling with the virus.

Health minister Olivier Veran told parliament: “We will not let doctors be in a situation where they have to choose among patients”.

He said the next 24-48 hours would be key in assessing the impact of the measures that were introduced 10 days ago and that the government was ready to take additional measures if necessary.

A government source told Reuters three scenarios were being considered to stem rising infections.

They include a massive operation to transfer intensive care patients from overloaded hospitals to lesser-hit regions, school closures and a strict lockdown in the hardest-hit regions of the country.

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