President Emmanuel Macron has stated the need to work on a plan to relax Covid-related restrictions in the coming weeks if the downward trend of cases in France continues, the French press widely reports.
It was one of several scenarios he evoked during a video-conference meeting with around 15 MPs yesterday (February 19).
Several of the MPs told public service media Franceinfo that the president is considering making a decision on easing or increasing restrictions in 10 to 15 days, depending on the evolution of the Covid-19 epidemic in the country.
Franceinfo reported that he raised the idea of a "resilience scenario", meaning a model in which the public learn to live with Covid-19 while accepting some of the consequences that would come with easing back restrictions.
This has not been confirmed by the government.
There is currently a 18:00 to 06:00 curfew in place across the whole country and international travel is heavily restricted.
Restaurants, cafés, bars and cultural spaces remain closed.
As well as mentioning a plan for eventually relaxing Covid measures, President Macron discussed tightening restrictions if the epidemic situation worsens. Franceinfo reports that he did not explicitly use the word “lockdown”.
Health Minister Olivier Véran has called on people in France to continue following the restrictions set by the government.
“This is not the time to relax our efforts or our vigilance: curfews, limiting contact, our ability to test and break the chains of contamination limit the epidemic outbreak. We must continue along this path and hold together,” he tweeted on Thursday (February 18).
L'heure n'est au relâchement ni de nos efforts, ni de notre vigilance : le couvre-feu, la limitation des contacts, notre capacité à tester et à casser les chaînes de contaminations limitent la flambée épidémique. Il faut poursuivre dans cette voie et tenir ensemble.— Olivier Véran (@olivierveran) February 18, 2021
Scientific experts in France have called on the government to change its approach to the Covid health crisis, suggesting a new “social contract” between generations, and an end to “stop-start confinement”.
In a report in medical journal The Lancet, five out of 17 members of the government advisory body the Conseil Scientifique suggested that the government should stop the current curfew measures, and the risk of continued lockdowns, and instead require elderly and fragile people to self-isolate.
It comes as some MPs have called for the government to set an end date to restrictions.
Opposition senator Bruno Retailleau said the government was “on autopilot”, while the MP for Manche, Philippe Gosselin, told local newspaper Ouest-France that the curfew measure was starting to feel very “long”.
He said: “If the people are to continue in good faith, [the government] needs to set a limit.”
Thierry Benoît, the MP for Ille-et-Vilaine, has also said that the measure will become more difficult to enforce and respect when the days begin to get longer as spring and summer approach.
The number of reported positive cases of Covid-19 in France has remained relatively steady since the start of the year. In the past week, the average number of positive tests dropped to 18,194, a fall of 5% from the previous week.
This remains far higher than the 5,000 per day goal set by President Macron as a marker for ending the second lockdown in mid-December 2020.