Wednesday Mar 31, 2021
The French government is considering closing schools for four weeks, BFM TV reported on Wednesday, saying the closure would consist of one week of remote learning and three weeks of holidays.
The development comes as French President Emmanuel Macron is set to make a prime-time television address today to outline new measures aimed at stemming soaring COVID-19 cases and respond to criticism that he has allowed the pandemic to run out of control.
At the end of January, the 43-year-old president bucked the European trend and went against the recommendation of his scientific advisers by deciding that France would not enter the third lockdown.
For a month, the bet looked to have paid off as new cases flatlined at around 20,000 a day in February, with France in a state of semi-openness — under a night-time curfew, but with shops and schools open.
But with daily cases having doubled to around 40,000 and hospitals in infection hotspots like Paris overflowing, the tide looks to have turned amid pleas from medics for tighter restrictions.
The last tightening of restrictions entered into force in France on March 20, covering around a third of the country's population including the Paris region.
Non-essential shops were closed and travel restrictions imposed, but small groups were allowed to meet outside and schools allowed to remain open.