Speaking to the nation tonight, the French President announced the country will enter into another lockdown for at least one month, which will see a 7pm curfew imposed on the whole of the country. He also announced non-essential shops would have to close. Schools, day care centres and educational facilities will be closed for three weeks, from Monday April 5, but the children of medics will still be allowed to attend.
Mr Macron said: “We will lose control if we do not move now.”
He announced a change to the current school timetable and said nurseries and primary schools will reopen from April 26, while middle and high schools will be allowed to return to the classroom from May 3.
University students will be allowed to go in for only one day a week.
The new measures announced by Mr Macron will be debated and voted on in the French parliament tomorrow.
Mr Macron said he was forced to act to contain COVID-19, as cases have risen by 55 percent in a fortnight.
Mr Macron has sought to avoid introducing a third national lockdown since the start of the year, but the rising figures and emergence of a worrying new Covid strain pressure has been building on officials to introduce tougher measures.
Last week the French President defended his decision not to impose a third lockdown, despite the surge in infections.
Parisian doctors have identified a new variant of COVID-19, which is more easily transmissible.
Scientists at the Henri Mondor hospital said the variant had 18 new mutations, including two which can spread quicker and fight vaccines more successfully than the original strain.
So far, there appear to be few cases of this variant, dubbed the Henri Mondor variant, but it is said to be spreading quickly.
Forty-one doctors in Paris warned hospitals may soon have to start choosing which patients to treat, as they are almost at full capacity.
Writing in Le Journal de Dimanche, they said: “All indicators show that the current measures are and will be insufficient to quickly reverse the alarming curve of contaminations.”
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Last night France reported more than 5,000 patients are in intensive care, the highest number this year and exceeding the peak hit during a six-week-long lockdown in the autumn.
Areas with rising infections are also facing bed shortages, with an average of 37,000 daily new cases being reported across the country in the past week.
France isn’t the only country facing a surge in infections, with Poland, Italy, Germany and Ukraine making up the top five European countries with the newest cases each day.
All five countries have increased substantially over the past fortnight.