President Emmanuel Macron has extended France’s coronavirus lockdown for another month as he apologized for his government “not being prepared enough” for the crisis.
Macron said that restrictions that started on March 17 would continue to be enforced strictly until May 11 as the country’s death toll rose to almost 15,000.
Addressing the nation this evening from the Elysée Palace in Paris, the French President said that after May 11 the lockdown could slowly be relaxed.
That will include the gradual reopening of schools, crèches, colleges and high schools.
Larger public events and restaurants, cafes and bars aren’t expected to open “before mid-July”.
However, he said this relaxing of the rules “will only be possible if we continue to be responsible civic respecting the rules and that the spread of the virus has actually continued to slow.”
The President added that the epidemic was “beginning to steady” in France although the country has “several more months to live with virus”.
Macron said: “The epidemic is starting to slow down. The results are there. Thanks to your efforts, everyday we have made progress”.
Mr Macron later conceded that there had been problems with everything from the supply of masks to protective gel, and that health workers “did not have enough protective equipment”.
The President said: “Mistakes were made.
“Were we sufficiently prepared? Obviously not – no one is prepared for a crisis of this magnitude”.
The country has been in the midst of a strict lockdown since March 17th, but the President insisted it was essential to “continue our efforts”.
France’s border with other European nations will also remain closed “until further notice”.