Emmanuel Macron has been accused of running “scared” of imposing a nationwide lockdown in France. Mr Macron’s Prime Minister Jean Castex again refused to impose a national lockdown despite “very worrying” infection rates in 20 French departments, or counties. France 24’s International Affairs Editor Philip Turle said that Mr Macron fears economic ruin and widespread protests if he imposes another lockdown.
Mr Turle said: “It’s a will he or won’t he every week on Thursday, and once again it’s a no. The government doesn’t want to bring in a nationwide lockdown for two reasons.
“One, they don’t want to hinder the economy even more.
“And two, they are scared that people are bored with the lockdowns in France and they don’t want protests to take off.
“But, they are under pressure because the figures are going up.
“If you look at the map at where these regions under scrutiny are, they are widespread and all quite heavily hit by increased infection rates.”
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President Emmanuel Macron has repeatedly promised to avoid a third national lockdown, despite the situation in France deteriorating rapidly in the last week.
Mr Castex said stricter limits on movement will be enforced in the 20 “under scrutiny” departments if figures show no improvement.
Prime Minister Castex announced on Thursday that infections have nearly doubled after experiencing a surge in the last week, with 30,000 new cases registered on Thursday.
This is the highest daily figure since mid-November, just before the government imposed a second month-long lockdown.
Experts claim that Mr Macron has gambled by resisting pressure for a third lockdown, with schools and non-essential businesses all open in contrast to France’s neighbours.
The embattled French president also backtracked on his earlier criticism of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, after previously calling it “quasi-ineffective” for those over the age of 65.
Speaking with the authorities in his country who have been struggling to convince health professionals and the general public to accept the AstraZeneca jab, Mr Macron said he would take the vaccine if offered.
Recent polls show falling public confidence in the government’s handling of the crisis.