Few have welcomed this third lockdown in France. It is different to the first two: an in-out hybrid dubbed a “third way” by Prime Minister Jean Castex.
People in the 16 departments affected will need to carry an “attestation” (either on paper downloaded onto a mobile phone) explaining why they are out and about. But unlike the last lockdown, where citizens were asked to “stay at home”, this time they can spend as long as they like outdoors but must stay within a ten-kilometre radius and only essential shops and services will be open.
There was much derision on social media and confusion over whether it really was a lockdown or not.
Prime Minister Jean Castex explains ..
The President of the Ile de France, the region which includes Paris and the surrounding departments, says the restrictions will be “very hard to endure”.
She has called for the vaccination rollout to be accelerated and wants more financial help for shops and businesses that will be forced to close.
Marine Le Pen, boss of the nationalist Rassemblement National party, was blunt: “Lockdown is what you do when you have failed at everything else,” she said on Twitter.
“Back to the Middle Ages” tweeted Jean-Luc Melenchon of the far-left LFI party, laying into the government: “The denied everything, they foresaw nothing, they organized nothing”.
There was little comfort for the government in the press, where commentators deplored the failures in management at government and European level that have apparently made this third lockdown unavoidable.
‘Back where we started’
Left wing daily Liberation notes that by refusing to impose a lockdown at the end of January, Macron has ended up with one anyway. Remembering how almost exactly a year ago, Emmanuel Macron was in his words ‘going to war’ against the virus, Libe concludes that despite “repeated procrastinations, and so many fine words” the country is “back where we were at the beginning, but with our pride shattered and morale now at rock bottom”.
Right wing Le Figaro is no less impressed. In an opinion piece for the paper, commentator Ivan Rioufol is clear that the continued curfew and the new lockdown are simply evidence of the government’s inability to manage the crisis. He fumes that while there is insufficient capacity in resuscitation units, money has been splashed around elsewhere. He singles out for particular criticism the film business in France, noting that actors and technicians received significant government financial aid to cushion them economically from the impact of Covid, yet participants in the recent Cesar film award ceremony, he noted in disgust, had spent their time complaining.