Doctors are urging the French to avoid social and family gatherings after more than 10,000 new infections on Saturday, David Chazan reports from Paris.
Alarmed by the record daily toll and the absence of UK-style restrictions, leading doctors made the call in an open letter published in the Journal du Dimanche newspaper.
The government of President Emmanuel Macron came under fire on Sunday for a “chaotic” approach to the coronavirus after shying away from imposing new national restrictions to cope with France’s spike in cases.
Prime Minister Jean Castex has instead asked local authorities to come up with measures appropriate for their regions this week. But the strategy is backfiring, with local leaders and officials across the country now demanding a national plan.
In a front-page headline, France’s main national Sunday paper, Le Journal du Dimanche, labelled the approach “le grand bazar”, a phrase that means “total chaos”.
In the south of France, where the regional president is to announce decisions on Monday, the coronavirus has exacerbated tension between Marseille and Paris. The traditionally contrary Marseillais resent being dictated to by the capital.
Both the senator and mayor of France’s second city complained long and loud when central government made face-masks compulsory outdoors in the Mediterranean port city last month “without consulting us”.
The government has failed to follow scientific advice to introduce further restrictions, instead appealing to people’s sense of responsibility and civic duty. Its chief scientific adviser had warned that the government would have to take “difficult decisions”.
Doctors and scientists say it is wrong to rely on people to take preventive measures and coercive measures must be taken. But the government is determined to avoid national or local lockdowns, arguing that France cannot afford further economic damage.
The president and prime minister have both warned that the French must “learn to live with the virus” at least for the next few months.