COVID-19: Tough coronavirus lockdown measures widened to whole of France, says Macron

·1-min read

France will widen strict lockdown restrictions - which have already been in place in several regions - to the whole country to combat a third wave of coronavirus sweeping Europe.

In a televised address to the nation, President Emmanuel Macron said the new measures will come into effect on Saturday and be in place for at least a month.

He described the measures as "reinforced breaking" and they will include schools temporarily closing for three weeks.

He said: "We will lose control if we do not move now."

Mr Macron's announcements come after doctors warned that hospitals are on the brink of being overwhelmed by the number of sick people needing treatment.

Daily new infections have doubled since February to nearly 40,000.

And yesterday, the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care breached 5,000, exceeding the peak hit during a six-week long lockdown in the autumn.

Mr Macron had been holding off another national lockdown since the start of the year, hoping to steer France
out of the pandemic while giving the economy a chance to recover from a deep slump.

However, in recent weeks, options have narrowed as the highly contagious and virulent coronavirus variant first detected in Britain has swept across France and much of Europe.

A nationwide nightly curfew has been in place since December and restaurants, bars and cinemas have been closed for months.

Ten days ago, the government shut non-essential stores and limited people's movements in Paris and other regions ravaged by the virus.

Asked if Macron's address amounted to an admission he had got the strategy wrong, government spokesman Gabriel Attal told a news briefing earlier: "There had been successes and there have probably been mistakes.

"What's important is to recognise this."