UPDATED Wednesday, March 31 23:02: In dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, there are three principles to follow: Safety, Balance and Responsibility, President Macron said on French television on Wednesday night. “We will lose control if we do not move now,” the president said.

In the last few weeks the situation has changed. Vaccination has started but variants have emerged, the President said, singling out the so-called British variant. “Now there is a an epidemic within the epidemic,” he said, adding that there has been an acceleration in the pandemic.

“Let’s not panic,” he said, adding that the situation in French hospitals is under control. “However, we all need to make more effort in the next few weeks.”

He said that more intensive care beds will be brought on-line.

Getting to the point, he said that the lockdown will be extended to all of France for at least four weeks. The curfew at 19:00 will stay in place, while working from home must be adhered to.

From April 5, travel between Departements will not be allowed except in very special circumstances. The much-despised attestation will be required only for journeys of more than 10 kilometres.

“We can be proud of being one of the first countries to reopen schools,” he said, but added that schools will be closed for three weeks. Learning will be on-line for one week, as school holidays approach. Only children of essential workers will be able to go to school.

On May 3, primary and secondary schools can resume classes. The head of state suggested that from mid-May “we will start to open again with strict rules, certain places of culture, we will authorise under conditions the opening of terraces”, he said.

“We are going to build between mid-May and the beginning of summer a calendar for the gradual reopening for culture, sport, leisure, events and our cafes and restaurants.”

The new nationwide measures will come into force on Saturday, April 3.

Mr Macron finished his address by saying that vaccination will provide the long-term solution.

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