Macron admits ‘I’ve made mistakes’ in France as President announces major new lockdown

And the has admitted his country is on the verge of “” as he announced a three-week school closure. During his televised address, said: “We’ve made mistakes. There were delays, there were things that we have corrected.”

Nevertheless, he warned: “We will lose control if we do not move now.”

With France’s death toll approaching 100,000, intensive care units in the hardest-hit regions at breaking point and a sluggish vaccine rollout, Mr Macron has abandoned his goal of keeping the country open to protect the economy.

The announcement means movement restrictions already in place for more than a week in Paris, and some northern and southern regions will apply to the whole country for at least a month, from Saturday.

Mr Macron, 43, had sought to avoid a third large-scale lockdown since the start of the year, instead hoping to steer France out of the pandemic without locking the country down in order to give the economy a chance to recover from last year’s slump.

However, his plan has been derailed by more contagious strains of the coronavirus which has swept across France and much of Europe.

For children after this weekend, learning will be done remotely for a week, after which schools go on a two-week holiday, which for most of the country will be earlier than scheduled.

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Nursery and primary pupils will then return to school while middle and high school pupils continue distance learning for an extra week.

Mr Macron explained: “It is the best solution to slow down the virus.

Daily new infections in France have doubled since February to average nearly 40,000.

The number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care has breached 5,000, exceeding the peak hit during a six-week-long lockdown late last year.

Bed capacity in critical care units will be increased to 10,000, Macron said.

The new lockdown risks slowing the pace of France’s economic recovery from last year’s slump.

It will force the temporary closure of 150,000 businesses at a cost of £9.4billion (€11billion) per month, the finance ministry has warned.

Mr Macron said people in their sixties would be eligible for a coronavirus shot from mid-April and those in their fifties a month later.

A target of 30 million adults inoculated by mid-June remained the target, he said.

Mr Macron also appeared to point the finger at the UK during the course of his address.

He said: “This variant which was identified for the first time from our British neighbours at the end of last year.

“And to a certain extent, of course, gave rise to an epidemic within the epidemic and that is greater than last spring.

Attempting to strike a positive note, Mr Macron said the April lockdown and a swifter vaccination campaign would allow the slow re-opening of the country from mid-May.

This will begin with museums and the outdoor terraces of bars and restaurants, albeit under strict rules.

Mr Macron insisted: “We can see a way out of this crisis.”

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