France to close schools, ban domestic travel as coronavirus surges

President Macron

"If we make this choice to extend them to the entire metropolitan territory, it is because no metropolitan area is now spared", he said. School closures in particular had been seen as a very last resort. Also, most non-essential shops are closed down.

Veterinarians and dentists have been allowed to administer Covid-19 vaccines in the country since Friday in order to "speed up the campaign".

A teacher, wearing a protective face mask, teaches to schoolchildren in a classroom at a private school during its reopening in Saint-Sebastien-sur-Loire near Nantes as a small part of French children head back to their schools.

Macron reaffirmed his views against a prolonged closure of schools as "increasing social inequalities".

The known death toll connected to COVID is inching closer to 100,000, a milestone already surpassed by the United Kingdom and Italy in Europe, with almost 350 people losing their lives every day.

The measures will start Saturday and last for at least a month, Macron said in a televised national address.

Previous nationwide lockdowns in March and October 2020 were announced by Macron in televised speeches.


Restrictions already applying in the Paris region and elsewhere will now be extended to the whole country. Macron on Wednesday said numbers of hospital ICU beds will be increased "in the coming days" from the current 7,000 to 10,000.

More than 5,000 patients were in intensive care on Tuesday, the first time in 11 months that the figure has been that high, while daily new infections have doubled since February to almost 40,000.

The epidemic has killed 95,337 people in France and left intensive care units in the hardest-hit regions at the point of breakdown.

After an overnight shift at an ICU in the northern French city of Amiens, Dr. Pauline Caillard described growing numbers of patients and mounting strain on medical staff. "I solemnly ask you to reinforce without delay the sanitary measures... we must lockdown".

Macron, who is up for reelection next year, had justified his regional strategy by saying the country needed to consider the impacts on mental health and the economy in devising a balanced response to the third wave.

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

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