France has expanded its coronavirus lockdown across the country in an attempt to slow soaring infection rates, while Europe is grappling with a third wave.
President Emmanuel Macron announced that every region of the country would be closed for at least a month from Saturday.
The chairman announced the temporary lockdown on Wednesday, saying travel was strictly limited and schools would be closed again for three weeks.
Mr. Macron has already extended the movement restrictions for regions including the capital Paris to all of France.
The new locks will close unnecessary shops and hospitality businesses such as cafes, bars and restaurants and impose a curfew from 7 p.m.
This brings the whole country in line with cities like Paris, which have had a limited lockdown in the past two weeks.
Mr Macron said the so-called “British variant” of the coronavirus was of particular concern in France, referring to the mutant strain that first appeared in Kent and has since become dominant in the UK and Europe.
He told the nation he was implementing the measures in a desperate attempt to contain infections that threaten to overwhelm hospitals.
“We will lose control if we don’t move now,” said the president
said in a televised address to the nation.
The virus killed 95,337 people in France and left
Intensive care units in the hardest hit regions at the time of the collapse.
Schools close three weeks after Easter, that falls
“It’s the best solution to slow the virus down,” Macron said
said, adding that France had managed to keep its schools
open longer than many neighbors during the pandemic.
“We are facing a new situation,” he said. “We are involved in a race. The spread of a new variant identified by our UK neighbors needs to be addressed.
It follows that Mr. Macron has been heavily criticized for believing that he has become such an expert on the spread of coronavirus that “he no longer follows the advice of scientists”.
The 43-year-old head of state and former commercial banker has been ridiculed over the past few days over the reports.
Cases in France have grown to more than 40,000 new per day and intensive care units are overcrowded.
France is lagging behind the UK in launching the vaccine, especially after a series of U-turns from Mr Macron over the Oxford-AstraZeneca push.
He initially said it was not suitable for anyone over 65 before announcing that it should not be given to anyone under the age of 55 for fear of blood clots.
The European Medicines Agency had to reiterate today that the vaccine is safe after Germany announced it would suspend its introduction to people under 60.