Macron says France ‘cannot be put on hold’ despite rapidly rising number of Covid-19 cases

In an interview that seems to signal that France will not be returning to lockdown, president Emmanuel Macron says that the country 'cannot be put on hold' by coronavirus.

Macron says France 'cannot be put on hold' despite rapidly rising number of Covid-19 cases
Emmanuel Macron on the French Riviera. Photo: AFP

While at the presidential holiday home in Brégançon on the French Riviera, Macron gave an interview to magazine Paris Match – complete with traditional 'at home' style photos of himself and his wife Brigitte in their holiday attire.


And he told the Paris Match journalist: “We can't shut the country down because the collateral damage of lockdown is considerable.

“Zero risk never exists in any society. We must respond to this anxiety without falling into the doctrine of zero risk.”

France enforced one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe from mid March to mid May, with people confined to their homes, businesses shut down and travel heavily restricted. This lead to a massive contraction of the economy and set France on course for its worst recession since 1945 – although current projections show that the Spanish and UK economies were hit much harder.

Macron said he understands the “legitimate anxiety, linked to the virus” but said he believed that the public health policy of “testing, tracing, isolating, organising our emergencies, preventing, generalising the wearing of masks when necessary” should make it possible to contain the epidemic.

France has seen rapidly rising numbers of cases in recent weeks, with Wednesday seeing 3,800 new infections reported, the highest numbers since May.

The country has massively expanded its testing programme since May, but health authorities say that increased testing alone cannot account for the increase in the number of cases.

So far, rates of hospitalisation, intensive care patients and death rates remain stable. Public health officials say that they largest group of people testing positive is young people who tend to have milder symptoms, but the fear is that they will then spread it to older people and death rates will begin to rise again.

Many French cities are extremely quiet at present as French people take their traditional August holidays, and there is also concern around the return to workplaces and schools at the start of September.

France's advisory Scientific Council has previously said that the country will not return to a national lockdown, but there could be local lockdowns if necessary.

Prime Minister Jean Castex has asked each local préfecture to come up with its own plan for restrictions to impose if it becomes necessary in their area, and authorities in Paris, Sarthe and the Marseille département of Bouches-du-Rhône have been given extra powers after their areas were declared 'red zones' because of the high levels on infection.

Around 400 local authorities in France have already brought in rules around mask wearing in the street while wearing a mask will be compulsory in indoor workplaces from September 1st.

READ ALSO: Where in France is it compulsory to wear a mask in the street?


Member comments

  1. What world does Macron live in? Surly he’s not that thick to realise that the travel restrictions were lifted too soon and why let the Tour go ahead along with the cinescope at Le Puy du Fou. Could it be money and influence?

  2. @Boggy I think Macron lives in the real world. Are you really proposing a lockdown? The travel restrictions were very timely. Of course when people circulate more there will be some rises but lockdown can’t go on ad infinitum.

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French lawmakers push for abortion rights to be enshrined in constitution

After the seismic decision of the US Supreme Court on Friday, French MPs are calling for the right to abortion in France to be protected by the constitution.

French lawmakers push for abortion rights to be enshrined in constitution

Lawmakers from French President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance party are to propose a parliamentary bill on Saturday that would enshrine the right to abortion in the constitution. 

The move comes after the US Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 “Roe v. Wade” decision on Friday.

“In France we guarantee and advance the rights of women. We protect them,” said Aurore Bergé – the head of Renaissance in the Assemblée nationale and one of the key sponsors of the bill. 

Another co-sponsor, Marie-Pierre Rixain tweeted: “What happens in elsewhere cannot happen in France. We must protect the right to abortion for future generations. 

In 2018 and 2019, Emmanuel Macron’s party – which back then was known as La République en Marche – refused to back bills proposed by left-wing party, La France Insoumise, to enshrine abortion rights into the constitution. 

In a Saturday interview with France Inter, Bergé suggested that the success of Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National during parliamentary elections earlier this month had created a sense of newfound urgency. 

She described the far-right MPs as “fierce opponents of women’s access to abortion” and said it was important “to take no risk” in securing it. 

READ MORE France’s Macron condemns US abortion ruling

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne has come out in support of the bill. 

The left-wing opposition block, NUPES, also backs it and had planned to propose an identical piece legislation of its own on Monday. 

Macron is seeking parliamentary allies to pass reforms after his formation lost its majority in legislative elections earlier this month.

The legal timeframe to terminate a pregnancy in France was extended from 12 to 14 weeks in the last legislature.

Changing the constitution requires the National Assembly and Senate to adopt the same text, then a three-fifths majority of parliament sitting in congress. The other option is a referendum.