Coronavirus: France to close all schools as country ‘faces biggest health crisis in a century’

All schools, universities and nurseries in France are to close in an attempt to contain the coronavirus outbreak, President Emmanuel Macron announced on Thursday as he urged over-70s to remain at home as much as possible.

Coronavirus: France to close all schools as country 'faces biggest health crisis in a century'
Photo: AFP


In a televised speech to the country on Thursday night, President Emmanuel Macron announced sweeping new measures to try and contain the virus that had contaminated over 2,870 people so far and claimed the lives of 61 people.

“I want to be very clear with you tonight,” the French President said. “We are only at the beginning of the epidemic.”

Follow the latest on the coronavirus situation in France here.

France's priority was to slow down the progression of the epidemic, Macron said before announcing the closure of all education institutions.

“Starting Monday, all nurseries, schools and universities will be closed,” he said, without specifying how long they would be remained closed for. 
The president also urged anyone aged over 70, disabled or in poor health to stay at home and limit social contact as much as possible.
“Protecting our most vulnerable is the most important thing right now,” he said.
Macron said he would not postpone the upcoming municipal elections, due to be held on Sunday March 15th and March 22nd.
“There is nothing to suggest the French shouldn't go to the polls,” he said, refuting claims that the elections could not be held because people would abstain from voting out of fear of the virus.
While urging everyone who could to work from home and limit their own movements as much as possible, he said public transport would run as usual.
“But I am calling on all of you to take responsibility,” Macron said. “This crisis must be an occasion to mobilise together, all of us.”
“We need to think ‘we’ instead of ‘I’. That’s why I’m telling you tonight that I am counting on you to respect the advice that the government has given you.”
“I'm counting on all of you to put the nation first.”
“That means washing your hands. It means working from home for those who can, and it means limiting taking public transport as much as possible.”
The president urged all French businesses to let their workers do télétravail, work from home, if possible.
“The state will bear the financial burden of the people who have to stay home,” Macron said, as he announced what he said would be “exceptional measures” to help businesses cope with any financial losses following the new measures.
“We won't add fear of bankruptcy and unemployment to the sanitary crisis,” he said.
The traditional winter truce (trêve hivernal) which prevents landlords from evicting tenants during coldest months, was due to end on March 31st will be extended by two months.

“Division won’t help us in solving this crisis,” Macron said, referring to the the United States’ travel ban on the 26 European countries belonging to the Schengen area.

But he did warn that borders could close but decisions needed to be taken at a European level.

“There will, without doubt, be border measures to take. But we need to take them when they are useful,” he said.

“This virus doesn’t have a passport. We need to stand together, we need to gather forces, we need to cooperate.”
While the European Union's initial show of unity over the pandemic had promised a coordinated effort to save the economy, responses still differ from government to government.
European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde on Thursday slammed “the complacency and slow motion process” of governments in the eurozone area in particular.
Perhaps in response to the ECB's chiding, Macron called for “a national and European stimulus plan”, saying measures announced by the ECB earlier in the day were not enough.

Member comments

  1. Macron can say whatever he likes, but do people listen??
    My partner is a professor at a college based in central Nice and their college is remaining open.
    The children have been asked not to go to college, but the teachers still have to go. How ridiculous is that!!

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


French government calls on over-60s to get second Covid booster as cases rise

As Covid cases show a significant rise in France in recent weeks, the government is calling on all eligible groups to get a second Covid vaccine booster shot.

French government calls on over-60s to get second Covid booster as cases rise

After a 40 percent rise in Covid-19 cases in the last week, the French Health ministry is calling all eligible people – including over 60s and those health conditions – to receive their second booster (fourth dose) of the vaccine.

“It is necessary to redouble our efforts to protect vulnerable people, this is done through vaccination and this campaign of second boosters is absolutely necessary,” said the ministry of health.

The Covid incidence rate is increasing in more than 50 départements across France. Currently, there are an average of 50,000 positive tests per day, which has also been accompanied by an increase in hospitalisations. 

“This is very clearly a reprisal of the epidemic linked to the arrival of new variants of the Omicron family, which are called BA4 BA5,” said infectious disease specialist Anne-Claude Crémieux to Franceinfo. Crémieux added that these variants are faster-spreading.

Therefore, the government is calling on vulnerable people to take their second booster dose (the fourth dose of the vaccine).

So far, only a quarter of eligible people have taken their second booster dose, with an average rate of 25,000 to 30,000 injections per day for the past two months.

“This is not enough, and it is not going fast enough,” urged the Ministry of Health on Tuesday.

The Haute autorité de santé also recently released its recommendation for a vaccination campaign to give a second Covid vaccine booster shot for the wider population, starting in October. 

The HAS recommendation advises starting France’s annual flu vaccine campaign in mid October (mid September for the French overseas territory of Mayotte) and combining it with a campaign to give a second Covid vaccine booster ahead of a possible new wave of Covid in the winter. 

At present although the great majority of the French adult population is vaccinated against Covid with two doses and a booster, a second booster is only recommended for people in high risk groups such as the over 60s and those with long-term health conditions.

The HAS recommendation reads: “At the end of May, the HAS recommended preparing for a booster shot campaign for people most at risk of developing the most severe forms of Covid, and envisaged a booster shot for healthcare workers.

“Those parts of the population most at risk are also those for whom the seasonal flu vaccination is recommended, therefore for logistical reasons the HAS recommends combining the two campaigns.”

The flu campaign is advised to go ahead as normal, starting in mid-October.

The HAS only makes recommendations, the details of policy are up to the government, but it usually follows HAS advice.

The usual seasonal flu campaign in France offers a vaccine for free to anyone in a high risk group, which includes the elderly, people with underling health conditions, healthcare workers and pregnant women – full details HERE on how to get the vaccine.

Those who don’t fit into those categories can still access the vaccine, but must pay for it – €6-€10 for the vaccine and the standard appointment charge to have it administered by a doctor (€25, with 70 percent reimbursed for those with a carte vitale).

The flu vaccine is available from family doctors, midwives and participating pharmacies once the campaign officially launches.

The Covid vaccine is also available from family doctors, midwives and pharmacies, but most of the vaccine centres set up in 2021 have now been closed down.

There is currently no suggestion a return of the health pass, so a second booster shot would be entirely voluntary, but the government has the power to re-introduce such measures if a major wave of Covid hits France over the autumn and winter.

Currently, there are no plans to lower the age minimum (as of now set at 60 years old) for receiving a second booster. Health authorities believe that the immune response after a first booster “continues to sufficiently protect” younger adults.