French President Emmanuel Macron said that schools in his country will be closed for at least three weeks, as part of new restrictions to confront an increase in the number of cases of Covid-19 disease.
Macron said schools will switch to remote education starting next week.
The authorities also decided to extend the lockdown measures, which began to be applied in some regions of France earlier in March, to include other regions.
All non-essential stores will be closed from Saturday, and there will be a ban on being away from home for more than 10 kilometers without a valid reason.
More than 5,000 people infected with Covid-19 are housed in intensive care units in French hospitals, an unprecedented number in the country.
On Wednesday, the French Ministry of Health announced the registration of 59,038 new cases. France has so far reported more than 4.6 million cases of coronavirus and 95,495 deaths related to COVID-19.
What are the measures announced by Macron?
In a live televised address on Wednesday, Macron described the situation in the country as “sensitive” and said April would be crucial. “We will lose control if we do not act now,” he said.
The 43-year-old president indicated that there is a race between vaccinations on the one hand and an attempt to control the spread of the virus on the other hand.
He said while schools will be closed from next week, classes will remain open for children of key workers.
Macron said the measures that came into effect in 19 provinces earlier in March – including closing non-essential businesses, limiting exercise within a distance of no more than 10 kilometers from an individual’s home, and a ban on travel to other parts of the country without a valid reason – It will be extended nationwide.
“Everyone should restrict their contacts with others,” he said, adding that the authorities will allow people during the Easter holidays to go to where they want to spend the lockdown period.
The curfew, which begins at 7 pm, will continue to apply to all parts of the country.
Macron said there would be “a light at the end of the tunnel” if people respect the new measures.
Parliament will debate measures announced by Macron before the vote on Thursday, according to the prime minister’s office.
How dangerous is the situation in France?
With the increase in severe cases of coronavirus in France, pressure on hospitals in the Greater Paris region has increased the demand for beds in intensive care units. Hospitals in and around Paris are also reducing treatments for diseases other than Covid-19.
Last week, the French Hospital Association warned that hospital wards across the country would face an “unprecedented violent shock” in the coming weeks if the authorities were unable to curb the rise in cases. She urged the government to impose a “strict lockdown” or to risk flooding hospitals with cases.
In an interview with “France Inter” radio on Tuesday, Gilles Bialou, the director of the infectious diseases department at Tennon Hospital in Paris, said that the closure restrictions should have been implemented earlier than that.
“We lost so much time that the procedures are now more difficult and will last longer,” said Gil Bialo, noting that hospital staff are suffering from exhaustion.
Public support for imposing a nationwide lockdown has increased in the past few days, and an opinion poll conducted by the Elaby Institute on Wednesday showed that 54 percent of citizens surveyed supported the move.
On Wednesday, the Mayor of Paris, Anne Edelago, supported the closure of schools, saying the move – which the government considers a last resort – is necessary due to the “extremely dangerous situation”.
A group of French school teachers had earlier filed a legal complaint against the Minister of Education, Jean-Michel Blancer, for “endangering the lives of others”, accusing him of failing to protect employees who are in regular contact with children in the classroom.