The Debate

France holds its breath: Can this country withstand another lockdown?

THE DEBATE
THE DEBATE © FRANCE 24

The last lockdown was lifted five months ago but it's still fresh in people's memories. Ever since September when people went back to school and back to work after the holidays, the Covid-19 situation has been getting progressively more serious. For two weeks, this country has had a 9pm to 6am curfew. Until just a few days ago, many people thought the next step would be simply to bring that curfew forward by a couple of hours.

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But then came the latest figures: an alarming 52,000 new Covid-19 cases were announced on Sunday alone. And then came the news that there are close to 3,000 coronavirus patients in intensive care units across in France out of a total capacity of 5,800 beds. Yesterday, a daily death toll of 523 was announced -- a level not seen since April.

So clearly something has to happen and the government has no choice but to take -- what by its own admission -- will be some unpopular decisions.  

It's not just France. Germany is also expecting strict new measures. Some of Italy's major cities like Milan, Turin and Naples are seeing rapidly increasing figures accompanied by violent protests. The UK has declared strict localised measures and the World Health Organization says Europe has reported 1.3 million new cases in the past seven days alone, accounting for nearly half the global total.

So what are the government's options? Who are they listening to: the doctors, who say another lockdown must be declared in order to save the healthcare system from collapse? Or the business owners who are pushing for a compromise, warning of layoffs and bankruptcies in the event of another lockdown?

Produced by Freddie Gower, Juliette Laurain and Imen Mellaz. 

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