Macron slammed by French residents for slow EU vaccine rollout
Mr Macron controversially resisted calls for a nationwide lockdown at the end of last month, despite a looming third wave and the nation’s sluggish vaccine rollout. However, it seems the city’s leaders are less convinced that the 43-year-old’s less stringent measures will be sufficient.
Speaking to France Info radio today, first deputy mayor Emmanuel Gregoire said Paris would submit a plan to the government prescribing a three-week lockdown of the French capital in view of the reopening of all venues, including bars, restaurants and theatres.
The idea is to have “the prospect to reopen everything”, he explained.
Like the rest of the country, Paris has been under a night curfew since December 15.
French President Emmanuel Macron has resisted calls for a full lockdown
First deputy mayor Emmanuel Gregoire
Bars, restaurants and cultural venues, such as everywhere else in France, have been closed even longer to minimise infection.
Earlier in the day, French Prime Minister Jean Castex said the government would impose measures including weekend lockdowns in Paris and 19 other regions from the start of March if signs of the coronavirus accelerating persist – but he stopped short of the more drastic measures outlined by Mr Gregoire.
France will close its borders to all but essential travel to and from countries outside the European Union on January 31, while people arriving from within the bloc have to show a negative test.
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Olivier Veran, France’s health minister
Large shopping malls are shut and police patrols have been increased to enforce a 6pm curfew.
However, Mr Macron stopped short of ordering a new daytime lockdown, emphasising his wish to see whether other measures would be enough to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
At the time 10 percent of cases were attributable to the more contagious variant first found in Britain, with senior medics recommending a total lockdown, and one opinion poll indicating more than three-quarters of French people think one is now inevitable.
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Parisians before the curfew
Parisians by the Seine – with little social distancing in evidence
The poll also showed falling public confidence in the government’s handling of the crisis.
Nevertheless, Mr Macron tweeted: “I have trust in us. These hours that we are living through are crucial.
“Let’s do all we can to slow the epidemic together.”
Health Minister Olivier Veran told the Journal du Dimanche government advisers had judged the slower-than-expected spread of the UK variant meant there was no risk in delaying the decision on a lockdown by a week.
France has been criticised for its sluggish vaccine rollout
However, he stressed action would be swift if the virus started spreading faster, explaining: “We never said we would not impose a lockdown in the next two weeks if necessary.”
Nevertheless, up to now, full lockdown measures have yet to be introduced.
Mr Macron’s response to the pandemic has been the source of considerable criticism, especially the slow vaccine rollout.
Speaking to Express.co.uk last month, Dr Joseph Downing questioned the point of the curfew currently in force.
Coronavirus vaccination rates
He said: “So he is looking repressive for the sake of being repressive without being backed up by much medical sense.
“In the middle of winter, to have a curfew at 6pm does not seem logical.”
Dr Downing, an LSE Fellow in Nationalism at the LSE’s European Institute, added: “With the vaccine rollout, on a Europe-wide level they are somewhere near the bottom in terms of the number of people vaccinated – it’s ridiculous.
“Even ex-eastern bloc countries like Poland have vaccinated a lot of people.”