France will introduce a new coronavirus lockdown from Friday, President Emmanuel Macron has announced. In his second major televised address in two weeks, Macron said France was “overwhelmed by the pace at which the virus is spreading,” which was “worse than even the most pessimistic projections”.
Average daily infections more than doubled from 17,000 to 36,000 in the two weeks since his last address. The latest figures represent a record level of new cases in the country, more than seven-times the peak from the first wave earlier this year.
France now has the highest number of new cases in Europe, more than double the latest figures from Italy and Spain.
Macron said intensive care units in hospitals were already at 58% capacity. Medical experts warned that hospitals would be overwhelmed by mid November if no action is taken.
The new lockdown is similar to the first national lockdown that was imposed in March, which was one of the strictest in the world. People will once again be required to carry a form with them any time they leave their homes to justify their reason for being outside.
Only going to work, medical appointments and essential exercise is permitted. One significant difference from the first national lockdown is that schools will remain open.
Millions of Paris residents fled the city after Macron announced a national lockdown in March, and Google Maps data appeared to show a similar trend on Wednesday evening.
In the hours leading up to Macron’s address on Wednesday evening, roads around Paris experienced severe traffic as fears spread online that a new lockdown would be introduced.
Macron concluded his address by urging national unity. “We need to stay united to overcome this virus,” he said.