The stricter ‘semi-confinement’ rules currently in place in 19 departments will be extended to all of France from the evening of Saturday, April 3 for four weeks, President Macron said tonight in a televised address to the nation.
Schools will also close for three weeks, part of which will be spent studying at home.
Mr Macron began his speech by speaking of "a year of pain, of hardship, where at least four and a half million have contracted the virus, and where soon 100,000 families will have been bereaved.”
"The virus is still circulating strongly… but we have managed not to have general confinement so far as some neighbours have," he added, saying, Germany is on its fourth confinement.
The president said the whole country would need to continue to make an effort especially in April, adding that if the country remains united and in solidarity “we’ll see the end of the tunnel”.
Key measures announced were:
1: Extension of stricter rules to all of France.
Semi-confinement, also known as 'lockdown light', is already in place in 19 departments in France. The rules are less strict than during full confinement, but aim to limit social interactions and slow the spread of the virus:
- Non-essential shops will be closed throughout mainland France, as in the 19 departments already under ‘semi-confinement’. But, the list of shops considered essential has grown since the second confinement in November, meaning hairdressers, bookshops and more will be allowed to stay open.
- Obligatory travel exemption forms are needed during the day for people going more than 10km from home. Printable and digital forms are available via the government's website and the TousAntiCovid app
- People should not travel out of their own department unless they have an essential reason or they stay within 30km of their home
- French people abroad can travel back to France and people wanting to isolate in other regions of France for Easter can do so, if they travelling this weekend (April 2-4)
- The 19:00 - 6:00 curfew will continue
- Home working should become the norm
- Private gatherings and parties should be avoided as these are the occasions when it is most easy to become infected
- There will be more checks in public spaces to limit gatherings of groups of people
2: Creches, primary schools, collèges and lycées will close for three weeks with classes being undertaken from home next week.
Mr Macron said: “France was among the first to reopen our schools, and they have stayed open since September. We are among the few countries to have made this choice.”
- From April 5 schools and creches will close for and students will study from home for one week
- From April 12 all schools and creches in mainland France will go on holiday for two weeks, instead of school holidays being staggered by educational zone
- On 26 April students in creches and primary schools will return to schools in person. Collège and lycée students will continue to study from home
- From May 3 collège and lycée studets will return to in-person classes, assuming it is safe to do so
- During all this period, students who wish to do so will be able to go into university for one day of classes per week
- Chomage partiel measures will be in place for parents who have to stay at home, and for businesses all current support measures will be continued
The situation in France
President Macron said an increase of vaccination gives hope to come out of the crisis… but new variants – especially the UK variant - are creating “an epidemic in the epidemic.”
He said younger people are falling seriously ill with Covid-19, especially those in their 60s and 50s and even younger - 44% of people in ICU are now aged less than 60.
"The stricter measures in 19 departments are showing signs of working but are not enough and we have to fix a new framework for the months ahead," Mr Macron said.
"We are in a delicate situation: Intensive care beds could be saturated if the right measures are not taken," he added.
President Macron paid tribute to health workers and especially those in intensive care units, saying there was a need to reinforce teams in intensive care.