Emmanuel Macron announces France’s coronavirus lockdown will last at least one more month

'Our country was not sufficiently ready for this crisis,' French President says

French President Emmanuel Macron is seen as he addresses the nation about the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, on a television screen from confined people in Vertou, France, April 13, 2020. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe
French President Emmanuel Macron is seen as he addresses the nation about the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, on a television screen from confined people in Vertou, France, April 13, 2020. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

French President Emmanuel Macron has announced the country’s lockdown will continue for at least one more month.

In a televised speech, Mr Macron’s third since the start of the public health crisis, he said the unprecedented restrictions put in place were now showing results.

"The epidemic is starting to slow down," he said. "The results are there. Thanks to your efforts, every day we have made progress.

"But our country was not sufficiently ready for this crisis. We will all draw all the consequences."

Mr Macron said that by May 11, France would be able to test everyone with Covid-19 symptoms. Schools and creches would progressively reopen.

A total of 14,967 people have died in the country since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak.

The lockdown has already been going for a month. Most businesses are closed and people are only allowed out of their homes on essential errands.

France, like all European nations, has to walk a difficult line as it looks to reopen some parts of its economy.

There are fears that returning to normal life too soon will provoke another peak in casualties from the virus.

On Sunday, France reported its daily death toll from Covid-19 had fallen to 315 from 345 a day earlier.

For four consecutive days in the country, the number of patients in intensive care has also fallen.

The lessening of pressure on France’s health system means that Mr Macron was expected to reassure people that he had an exit strategy to get the country back on to a normal footing.

Across Europe, Covid-19 has killed more than 75,000 people. More than 80 per cent of those died in Italy, France, Spain and the UK.

Spain is recording lower daily tolls, with 517 deaths announced on Sunday, the lowest number since March 20.

The government has introduced a partial relaxation of its lockdown measures.

In its second month of lockdown, Madrid has announced that people unable to work from home will be allowed to return to their jobs.

Businesses, mainly in construction and manufacturing, have been allowed to reopen.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced on Sunday that despite the relaxation of measures the country was still under lockdown rules.

Most people remain at home, and public spaces, bars, shops and restaurants were due to stay closed until at least April 26.

In the UK, ministers are discussing the huge hit to the economy caused by the coronavirus.

The National Institute of Economic and Social research has produced a report suggesting that 25 per cent of the country’s economy could disappear by summer if current conditions continue.

But Downing Street has warned repeatedly that it will consider lifting restrictions only on the basis of scientific evidence.

The UK has passed the grim milestone of 10,000 deaths from the coronavirus, with experts advising that the country could be the worst affected in Europe.

At the same time, the government has had to defend its handling of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s admission to hospital with the virus.

Mr Johnson was released from hospital on Sunday. His stay included three nights in intensive care.

He said that “things could have gone either way”, and that the country’s National Health Service had saved his life.

Mr Johnson’s office rebuffed claims that it misled the public and downplayed the severity of his condition at the time.

It had said that the British leader was in “good spirits” in intensive care, which now appears at odds with his version of events.

Updated: April 14, 2020 12:06 AM

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