France to close schools, ban domestic travel as virus surges

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In a televised address to the nation on Wednesday night, Mr Macron said efforts are needed as "the epidemic is accelerating".

"Soon, almost 100,000 families will be in mourning", he said, referring to France's climbing coronavirus death rate.

"We have a entered a race [between] on the one side the deployment of vaccination [and] on the other the spread in all of Europe of a new form of virus", he said, referring to the variant originating in the United Kingdom, which he called "an epidemic within the epidemic".

A debate is scheduled in parliament Thursday that will address the virus situation and the new measures.

What did President Macron announce?

Government sources told French TV BFM the president ahead of his announcement that he favoured plans to close schools for four weeks, with remote learning put in place for a week followed by extended school holidays.

Non-essential shops were closed and travel restrictions imposed, but small groups were allowed to meet outside and schools allowed to remain open.

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That image was apparently uploaded to Facebook by Vill's daughter after the event and is captioned: "The governor kissing my mom". He then inspected the damage with his staff and kissed her cheek again outside her home in a "very aggressive manner", Vill said.

The new restrictions risk slowing the pace of recovery in the euro zone's second-largest economy from last year's slump. All children will get online teaching next week, Macron said.

An overnight nationwide curfew from 7pm to 6am has been in place since January, and all France's restaurants, bars, gyms, cinemas and museums have been closed since October.

What is the health situation in France? He said 44 per cent of patients now in intensive care are aged under 65.

"It appears that we have lost control of the epidemic, ' wrote Patrick Bouet, the medic who leads the top body. The virus is winning", said Patrick Bouet, head of the French medical association, in an open letter.

Professor Philippe Juvin from Paris's European Hospital Georges Pompidou said last week that a strict lockdown may be the only way to prevent a major healthcare crisis.

More than 40 ICU and emergency doctors in Paris published an op-ed Sunday in the newspaper Journal du Dimanche, warning that ICUs in the region would reach capacity in the next two weeks if restrictions were not tightened.

Much of Europe has struggled to contain a third wave of Covid-19, in part fueled by new variants that early studies suggest are more transmissible and possibly deadlier than previous ones.

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