The virus is now circulating at a speed that even the most pessimistic predictions had not anticipated. The number of contaminations has doubled in less than two weeks. Unlike the first wave, all regions are now at the alert threshold. In many places, we have started to postpone heart or cancer operations, sometimes already postponed until spring.
We had sought to control its circulation by relying on our capacities to test, alert and protect. This is what we have been doing since August. Have we done everything right? No. We can always improve. We could have gone faster at the beginning with the testing. We should have been more respectful of barrier gestures, at home, with friends, places where we are most contaminated.
We are now overwhelmed by the sudden acceleration of the epidemic, by a virus that seems to be gaining strength as temperatures drop. All of us in Europe are surprised by the evolution of the virus. Some countries have taken tougher measures earlier, but we are all at the same point. Whatever we do now, 9,000 patients will be in intensive care by mid-November. We are now organising to deal with this.
In this context, my responsibility is to protect all French people and despite the controversies, despite the difficulties of the decisions to be taken, I fully assume this responsibility before you.
What are our goals? To protect the oldest and the most vulnerable. Age is a predominant factor: 85 per cent of the deceased are over 70. Our objective is also to protect the young: 35 per cent of people in intensive care are under 65. We must also protect our healthcare workers: we owe it to them to take every precaution to limit the spread of the virus. We must also protect the poorest, who are the most affected by the virus in terms of health, but who are also the most affected by the economic consequences of the virus. We must also protect the economy. It's this fair balance that we must constantly seek. Keeping in mind that nothing is more important than human life.
So I have decided that from Friday, we will again adopt the lockdown that stopped the virus. Schools will remain open, work can continue, retirement homes can be visited. You will be able to leave your home to go to work, to attend a medical appointment, to assist a loved one, to do your shopping or to get some fresh air near your home. This is the return of the certificate. Bars and restaurants will be closed.
Some rules are going to change. Our children cannot be deprived of contact with the school system. Nurseries, schools and high schools will remain open with reinforced health protocols.
Stay at home as much as possible. Respect the rules. Success depends on the civic-mindedness of each and every one of us. Every hour counts. As for the cemeteries, in this period marked by All Saints' Day, they will remain open and I want us to be able to continue to bury our loved ones with dignity.
We will assess every fortnight whether we can ease the constraints. Let's keep it tight for a fortnight. If we have better control of the situation in two weeks, we will be able to reopen some shops,. Our objective is to go from 40,000 to 5,000 infections per day.
We were all surprised by the acceleration of the epidemic. All of us. We must remain united and supportive and not give in to the poison of division. I believe in you - and in our ability to overcome this ordeal. We are a united and supportive nation, and this is the only way we can do it. We are France. I am counting on you. We will all get there together.
The above is an edited translation of the speech given by Emmanuel Macron earlier this evening. Translation: Julie Ezran