France extends lockdown until mid-May as Macron admits country 'wasn't prepared'

13 April 2020, 20:43

French President Emmanuel Macron has said the lockdown has been extended until 11 May
French President Emmanuel Macron has said the lockdown has been extended until 11 May. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

French President Emmanuel Macron has said the country will remain in lockdown until 11 May, and admitted his nation had not been "prepared enough" to deal with the coronavirus.

Speaking in a televised address, Mr Macron admitted there had been  "failings and insufficiencies" in France's dealing with the virus, and the county had been underprepared for what was coming. 

France has so far experienced 135,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 14,967 people have died, meaning it has the fourth-worst death toll on the planet, beaten only by the US, Italy and Spain.

Mr Macron said that from 11 May, schools and creches and Universities will be able to gradually re-open, just under two months after being closed to deal with the outbreak.

Anyone who has symptoms from that date will also be able to get tested for the virus.

The French government had seen a rise in popularity after introducing strict measures on 17 March, but has since faced criticism for their handling of the crisis.

France has been in lockdown since 17 March, and this has now been extended for another month
France has been in lockdown since 17 March, and this has now been extended for another month. Picture: PA

One of the main issues was the supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), of which Mr Macron admitted health professionals "did not have enough of".

Speaking on Monday evening from the Elysée Palace in Paris, Mr Macron said: "Mistakes were made.

"Were we sufficiently prepared? Obviously not – no one is prepared for a crisis of this magnitude."

He added that the borders to the nation will remain shut until the extensive spread of the virus worldwide is resolved.

Speaking about the effect his government's measures had had on the virus, Mr Macron said the number of infections were “beginning to steady”, although citizens have “several more months to live with virus”.

Today's development from France comes as First Secretary Dominic Raab confirmed the UK government would not be lifting lockdown measures this week.

Dominic Raab earlier said the UK will not be lifting lockdown measures
Dominic Raab earlier said the UK will not be lifting lockdown measures. Picture: PA

Speaking at the government's daily press briefing, Dominic Raab said: "We are still not past the peak of this virus" while at the same time urging the British public to keep up social distancing measures.

The UK has now entered its fourth week of lockdown, and the government is due to review those measures later this week.

Mr Raab said: "We don't expect to change measures at this point", and added the government would not do so until it was confident the virus can be contained.

Mr Raab suggested "it is still far too early" to talk about the relaxing of measures and the changing of advice and added: "There will come a time in the future where we can talk about relaxation or transition but we are not there now.'

He said: "We are doing a lot of work in government to be guided by the science and the medical advice that you get and I think that, until you have got that evidence, we will be getting ahead of ourselves."