Macron suffers Covid blow as France returns to lockdown amid huge spike – ‘So afraid’

France lockdown: Prime Minister announces local restrictions

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The French President has drawn a mixed reaction from scientists and MPs with his latest measures, which sees a return to lockdown restrictions from last year but with more freedoms. Prime Minister Jean Castex added Paris and 15 other regions will be under the lockdown measures for a month.

New restrictions come into affect today, with French authorities describing them as a “pragmatic”, regional approach.

Under Mr Macron’s Government’s measures, French people can go outdoors to walk or exercise, but they must have an approval “certificate” and cannot go further than 10km from their home.

France’s controversial night time curfew, which currently is in effect from 6pm, will be moved to 7pm.

Essential businesses will remain open as will schools and universities, but people will be asked to work from home.

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Mr Castex also said France recorded 35,000 new infections on Thursday, a rise of 23.6 percent in the last week, and called on French people to act with “real caution”.

He said: “Our choice, to be less restrictive on possibilities to leave one’s home, will need to go hand in hand with real caution.

“This is clearly about allowing for people to be outside, but not to go to friends’ homes to have a party or meet with many people without social distancing or a face mask. We know that it is in that kind of situation that the virus prospers…

“Our conviction is that if new measures are necessary, we need to keep the same coherence, and prefer a pragmatic, proportionate, territorialised approach.”

Critics have accused Mr Macron and the French Government of gambling with people’s lives with a softer, less restrictive lockdown.

Catherine Hill, epidemiologist, told CNN: “The President is so afraid of losing next year’s election that his policies will end up increasing the risk of death in the French population.”

She added COVID-19 is “everywhere”, and believes regional lockdowns are not the answer to curbing the rise in cases.

Communist MP Fabien Roussel also told France 5: “Macron is hedging his bets and there are human lives at stake.”

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Next year sees Mr Macron up for re-election as President, with far-right Rassemblement National (RN) and its leader Marine Le Pen strongly challenging the incumbent.

The most recent poll from Ifop puts Ms Le Pen in the lead with 28 percent of the first round vote, ahead of Mr Macron estimated at 24 percent.

In a second round between the two, Mr Macron narrowly beats Ms Le Pen with 53 percent of the vote.

Mr Macron’s approval rating also went up 6 points to 41 percent, according to an Ipsos-Mori poll in March.

France has recorded another 34,998 cases and 268 deaths yesterday.

In total, France has recorded 4,181,607 cases and 91,679 deaths.

France has also struggled with its vaccine rollout, with around 7.55 million doses administered as of March 15.

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