Nurseries and primary schools have reopened across France after a three-week closure in the first stage of the country’s partial blockade
PARIS – Nurseries and primary schools reopened on Monday across France after a three-week closure in the first stage of the country’s partial blockade, despite the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units reaching their highest level since the last spring.
Officials argue that the daily number of new infections has started to decline in the country, giving encouraging signs about the impact of the restrictions that were imposed earlier this month.
Schools have been closed since April 5 as the government has decided to bring forward the Easter holiday in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.
Starting next week, the ban on domestic travel will be lifted. The night curfew, now in effect from 7pm. at 6 am it will be maintained.
“We will gradually reopen,” said President Emmanuel Macron during a visit to an elementary school on Monday in Melun, south of Paris. “We will do this very slowly to prevent (the virus) from starting to spread again.”
Macron said he is predicting a better situation next month, when a larger proportion of the population will be vaccinated and the expected decrease in the number of daily infections after partial blockade.
Asked by a child about the curfew, Macron said “let’s try to delay it a bit (at night) … because 19 hours. it’s early.”
France intends to gradually reopen non-essential stores, some of its cultural spaces and terraces of cafes and restaurants from mid-May.
Authorities are reporting more than 30,000 confirmed virus infections each day, up from about 40,000 earlier this month. Even so, French hospitals are still close to becoming overburdened, with nearly 6,000 critically ill patients in French intensive care units.
More than 14 million people in France received at least one dose of a vaccine, about 26% of its adult population.
Dr Eric Caumes, head of the department of infections and tropical diseases at the Pitie Salpetriere Hospital in Paris, said he thinks “this is not very reasonable” to start reopening the country now.
“The numbers are not very encouraging,” he told BFM news broadcaster. “They have only started to decline in some places, therefore, saying that we are decreasing precautions, although the numbers have not yet decreased – we obviously have concerns.”
At a school in Paris on Monday morning, parents brought their children feeling relieved and worried.
“To be honest, we are not very concerned about the youngest in primary schools. We are more concerned with the other children who are in secondary schools, where I think the situation could be more complicated, “said Parisian Jerome Keff.
High school and high school students are taking classes online this week. They will be back to schools on May 3.
France recorded more than 100,000 deaths from COVID-19.