Mar 31, 2021 - World

France to close schools for 3 weeks, impose domestic travel ban as COVID surges

French President Emmanuel Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron. Photo: Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images

France is requiring schools nationwide to close for three weeks and is imposing a domestic travel ban to help control the "accelerating" coronavirus pandemic, President Emmanuel Macron said Wednesday.

Driving the news: It's the third lockdown for the country since the pandemic began, and a departure from the recent regional approach. The move comes as Europe battles a third wave of the coronavirus, driven in part by more transmissible variants.

Details: Nursery, elementary and high schools must close for at least three weeks, starting next week. Some will move to remote learning for a week before going on a two-week holiday.

  • Macron announced a month-long domestic travel ban, per AP.
  • Measures already in place in several regions, including Paris, will be extended to the entire country. All nonessential shops must close starting Saturday, per the BBC.
  • The nationwide 7pm to 6am curfew, which has been in place since January, will also remain.
  • Parliament will debate the measures before voting Thursday, the BBC reports, citing the prime minister's office.

What he's saying: “We will lose control if we do not move now,” Macron said in a televised address, per Reuters.

  • “It is the best solution to slow down the virus,” he said, adding "the epidemic is accelerating.”
  • “If we stay united in the coming weeks ... then we will see light at the end of the tunnel."

By the numbers: Daily new COVID-19 cases in France have doubled since February to nearly 40,000, per Reuters.

  • The number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care has surpassed 5,000, which is more than the peak number of people in ICUs during a six-week-long lockdown late last year, Reuters reported.
  • The country has so far recorded more than 4.6 million COVID-19 cases and over 95,500 deaths since the pandemic began, per Johns Hopkins University data.
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