Covid: towards a new 4-week weekend lockdown in Île-de-France? The decisions considered by the government

Published by Alexandre G., Caroline J., Laurent P. · Photos by Alexandre G. · Published on 18 March 2021 at 09h28
As some French are wondering if their country will prevent a third lockdown because of Covid, Prime Minister Jean Castex said the option of a local new lockdown, at least in Île-de-France - the hardest-hit area - was clearly considered now, because of the major deterioration of the Covid-19 epidemic markers over the past days. Two alternatives are on the executive's agenda: a "tough" 24/7 lockdown including schools open; and a weekend lockdown like in Pas-de-Calais and Alpes-Maritimes. L'Express reveals the scenario of a 4-week weekend lockdown is being considered by the executive.

After curfew from 6 p.m. and weekend lockdown, is a “tough” lockdown coming? This is the scenario currently debated within the government for the past days – according to news shared by RMC this Friday March 12, 2021. Faced with the degradation of the health situation, and especially in three regions, Île-de-France included, the executive is considering putting people back into lockdown, at least on a local basis, 24/7, and closing schools.

A few hours after the Health Defense CouncilL'Express reveals president Macron has already decided on - in agreement with the Prime Minister - 4-week lockdown in Île-de-France and only at weekends, quoting a minister who attended the extraordinary council: "We are standing in front of four tough weeks".

On that matter, this Tuesday March 16, 2021 Prime Minister Jean Castex tells BFMTV that "time has come to consider measures for the Île-de-France region". As a new health Defense Council is held this Wednesday March 17, 2021 at the Elysée Palace, two solutions are currently on the government's agenda: putting Île-de-France in strict lockdow, but keeping schools open - as it occured during this past Fall's lockdown -; or weekend lockdown like the restrictions instated in Pas-de-Calais, or Alpes-Maritimes. "Nice-inspired measures are on the table", Castex said on Tuesday.

What does encourage the government to announce a “tough” new lockdown? On that matter, someone close to the French President told RMC off-camera: “We’ll find out very soon, it’ll depend on ICUs, the French wouldn’t forgive us to let people die in corridors”, the adviser said. A confession supporting Olivier Véran’s statements made the day before during the weekly Covid-19 situation press brief. “We will take all necessary actions to save lives”, the Health Minister warned. According to President Macron, "the virus is the time master". The latter is expected to make his decision public in the coming hours.

Visuel Paris Tour EiffelVisuel Paris Tour EiffelVisuel Paris Tour EiffelVisuel Paris Tour Eiffel Coronavirus: ”The health situation is preoccupying”, Olivier Véran’s statements as of Thursday March 11
This Thursday March 11, at 6 p.m. French Health Minister Olivier Véran delivered a new coronavirus epidemic report, addressing the deteriorating situation in the three hardest-hit regions: Hauts-de-France, Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur and Île-de-France, as well as the impact of variants on the health pressure, the evacuation of Covid patients and the accelerating vaccination campaign. Epidemic markers and hospital pressure keep on worsening and the minister said ”we will take all necessary actions to save lives”. [Read more]


Belated decision?

So far, the health situation remains extremely tense in three regions: Hauts-de-France, Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur, and especially Île-de-France. In the Paris area, the Health Minister has already announced “dozens, and even thousands of evacuations might be completed in the coming days”. As for the hospital pressure, Véran gave a concrete example of the tension imposed to hospitals in the area at this very moment. A patient is hospitalized in intensive care every 12 minutes in Île-de-France”, the Minister underlined.

Yet, the government is trying to make everything they can to prevent this ultimate alternative of a “tough” lockdown, an extremely difficult decision in terms of politics and with many and heavy consequences, as we all know now. All the more so as other European countries are now softening restrictions. “Because when it gets started, we never know how long it lasts”, one of the minister’s advisers said. “If this lockdown is prevented, it will be said the President was right to take such risk, if [lockdown] is instated, time would have been bought anyway”, another government member said.

Before France finds out the government’s decision on that very matter, the country has to wait for the next announcements, during the executive’s coming weekly press brief, expected to be held this next Thursday, as it happens every week.

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