Health minister Olivier Véran says that tougher measures cannot be excluded. Photo: AFP
Until the last few days Emmanuel Macron, Jean Castex and members of their government insisted that a second nationwide “confinement” would be economically and socially and educationally catastrophic. It must be avoided at all costs.The government’s tone has changed somewhat, despite the tough, regionally-varied restrictions imposed last week. The Prime Minister, Jean Castex, said on France 2 TV on Thursday that the country could face the same kind of crisis which forced the first Covid-19 lockdown in March if people did not start to behave more responsibly.The health minister, Olivier Véran, said on Sunday that the government “does not want to close down the country” but tougher, nationwide restrictions for the late October school holidays or Christmas “could not be excluded”.
A group of seven senior doctors wrote in the Journal du Dimanche that harsh measures were needed immediately if France was to avoid a second wave of the virus which would be worse than the first. On present trends, they claimed, the number of Covid patients entering intensive care would match the late March-early April peak – about 650 a day – by the end of October and “could reach 1,200 a day by mid-November”. Continue reading “ANALYSIS: Is France heading back into lockdown?”→
The city was hit hard by the pandemic, but French leaders know transformation is necessary.
The pandemic hit Paris hard. It hit poor Paris suburbs harder. Paris had already staked its future on merging with a wide ring of banlieue towns to form the new Metropolis of Grand Paris—an environmentally resilient 21st-century capital. But the coronavirus made clear how urgent that transformation really is.
Last year, more than 38 million people visited Paris. This summer, international travel bans sent hotel occupancy down 86 percent. The greater Paris metropolitan area has seen economic activity fall by more than 37 percent during the pandemic compared with the same period last year. In Île-de-France, the region that metropolitan Paris calls home, 100,000 jobs have been lost since mid-March.
The strict national lockdown from mid-March to mid-May did succeed in reducing infections, hospitalizations, and deaths. But after it was eased, the virus began to spread once more. Though current hospitalization rates remain manageable and death rates are relatively low, the number of new cases has risen alarmingly in recent weeks, with cases surging in the Paris metropolitan area. On August 27, Prime Minister Jean Castex declared 21 of France’s 101 administrative departments, including Paris and its neighboring departments, COVID-19 “red zones.” Continue reading “Paris Is About to Change”→
growing number of French women are ditching their bras in the name of comfort and liberty, according to a recent survey, a trend that seems to have been triggered by the three-month Covid-19 lockdown in which many women got used to going without the undergarment.
Timothy Searchinger is a research scholar at Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs
Over the past six weeks, I’ve eaten out at restaurants five times, attended two concerts, visited a large, busy indoor mall three times, had two haircuts, and repeatedly watched school kids run around the schoolyard. But that’s all been responsible behavior — because instead of being locked down in my house in the D.C. area, I’ve been in France, where life and the economy are now carrying on close to normal.
What France, like virtually all of Europe, has shown is that following standard expert recommendations for dealing with covid-19 works. France had a massive outbreak of covid-19 in the spring, almost as soon as anyone realized the novel coronavirus had reached Europe. The deaths began occurring late March and reached more than 24,000 by the end of April — a higher death rate than even the United States at the time.
But while the outbreak occurred primarily in only two parts of France, French President Emmanuel Macron imposeda severe, nationwide lockdown on March 16. And during that lockdown, the government put extensive testing and contact tracing in place. Almost exactly two months later, France mostly reopened. And for the last two and a half months, the country has functioned in a primarily open status with around 500 new cases per day and only about 450 deaths in the last month.
The French lockdown was severe. People were only allowed out, after filling out a form, to take care of elderly relatives or to go grocery shopping. To buffer the economic impact, the government directly paid a portion of salaries for those who could not work. And, voila, it worked.
I’m in France because I was farsighted enough to marry a French woman 30 years ago, who was farsighted enough to save our marriage license, which let me fly to France with her in early June to visit her elderly parents even as other Americans are barred. For two weeks, we kept to ourselves, speaking to my in-laws only across a garden. With an easy-to-get doctor’s prescription, we were also able to get tested for covid-19 at a parking lot drive-up with no wait and received (negative) results in two days (now down to one day for others).