With a third wave of coronavirus infections threatening to overwhelm hospitals, French President Emmanuel Macron has brought in a measure he had long resisted—a third national lockdown. Macron announced Wednesday that the "lockdown light" measures introduced in Paris and 15 other regions almost two weeks ago will be extended across France for at least a month, the BBC reports. Schools and nonessential businesses will be closed, travel between French regions will be banned, and people will be barred from leaving their homes for nonessential reasons after 7pm. Authorities say that for the first time since last April, there are now more than 5,000 patients in intensive care.
An average of more than 37,000 cases a day has been reported over the last week and the country has recorded close to 100,000 deaths. "We tried to push back this day for as long as possible—but unfortunately it has now arrived," Macron said in a televised address Wednesday, per France24. "We will lose control if we do not act now." As COVID variants started to spread and cases started rising steeply in January, Macron gambled that a third national lockdown could be avoided if restrictions were moderately tightened while vaccination efforts were stepped up, the New York Times reports. But vaccine rollout has been slow: Around 12% of the population has received at least one dose of vaccine, compared to around 29% in the US and 46% in the UK. (Read more France stories.)