France: Macron suddenly relaxes – Germany remains in lockdown


France’s corona policy has so far been clear: contain the virus through strict rules and far-reaching restrictions.  The  French were only allowed to leave their apartments for a valid reason in the autumn – for example to go shopping or to work. Exercise or a walk were only allowed for one hour a day and within a radius of one kilometer.


 The  turnaround is all the more surprising. Most French assumed that at the risk of mutations, President Macron will once again react with all toughness. ©

 The y were preparing for a third hard lockdown. Instead, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced after the most recent deliberations: “Our duty is to do everything we can to prevent a new lockdown.” In doing so, he represented Macron’s line, which the President decided almost single-handedly. Against the advice of its scientific experts.


 The y had warned the week before that the mutations could hardly be brought under control without a strict lockdown. French media then certified Macron’s distancing and emancipation from his advisors. Macron responded to the criticism that the scientific advice had taken over the reins of the country, summed up the French broadcaster Europe 1.

Suddenly France is lockdown softer than Germany. And that, although the incidence is still well above that in Germany. But President Macron continues to refuse to send his country into complete lockdown. He stays with his lockdown light.

Political calculation? In less than 500 days, the French presidential election will take place

Macron’s change of course must also be seen against the background of the upcoming presidential elections in France. In less than 500 days, the French will elect their new head of state. According to surveys, it will amount to a race between Macron and Marine Le Pen from the right wing party “Rassemblement National” (formerly: “Front National”). Macron is not yet an official candidate for the election. It is assumed, however, that the former investment banker will run again, especially since his ambitious reform agenda is far from being completed due to the many crises.

According to the Harris Interactive polling institute, Le Pen could win the first ballot with 27 percent, even ahead of the incumbent head of state with 24 percent. Unlike the AfD in Germany, Le Pen was able to benefit in freedom-loving France from the corona frustration of citizens in the face of constantly new restrictions.

Macron’s nerves are therefore on edge, says the publicist Liane Bednarz. She explained to “Deutschlandfunk” that the reason why the third hard lockdown did not take place was Macron’s “fear of Le Pen”. ©

 The y manage to address the concerns of the “little people”. Macron, on the other hand, is seen by many French as too elitist. He is therefore trying, according to Bednarz, “at least not to reinforce this impression by ordering new lockdowns, so to speak a gusto”.

Lockdown light in France – daring move seems to be working at first

In addition to the increase in voter support, Macron also weighed the social and economic effects of a third lockdown in his decision. Similar to this country, warnings are given in France of the devastating consequences for daycare children and schoolchildren, as well as for the economy.


 The  result is a lockdown light with a lot of freedom for the French. Shops, hairdressing salons and schools remain open, only shopping centers of over 20,000 square meters had to close. Restaurants, bars, museums, and theaters that have been closed since the second lockdown continue to be. And there is a strict evening curfew from 6 p.m.

It was a daring move. And it seems to be opening. ©

 The  number of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in a week is currently slowly falling, most recently it fell below the mark of 200. In the past few days, the situation in French hospitals had also improved slightly. ©

 The  dreaded explosion of corona infections by the mutants, which all scientists warned against, has therefore not yet occurred. “Bravo les Français” was the headline of the French daily “Le Parisien” and praised the French for adhering to the rules.

Surf tip: current Corona news in the ticker of FOCUS Online

In France the incidence is three times higher than in Germany

That is one side of the truth. But the situation in France remains tense. More than 20,000 new infections are regularly reported every day. For comparison, in Germany there has been an average of 10,000 every day for a week. ©

 The re is also a clear discrepancy in the seven-day incidence: While the incidence value in Germany is currently stagnating at 57.1 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, it is three times as high in France at 189.2 cases. In addition, there are regional outliers upwards. ©

 The  northern French city of Dunkerque currently has an incidence value of 658. ©

 The  German district with the highest incidence is currently Tirschenreuth with 318.

Nursing staff at the clinic in Dunkerque spoke to “Le Figaro” no longer of a “wave” but of a “flood” in view of the many cases that can be traced back to the British mutation. Also in the Moselle department on the German border near Saarbrücken there had recently been a violent corona outbreak – especially with the South African and Brazilian variants. France’s European State Secretary Clément Beaune then warned of “nasty surprises” at the border and wanted to coordinate with the heads of government of the three neighboring federal states of Saarland, Rhineland-Palatinate and Baden-Württemberg.

Against this background, many French fear that Germany could close the border with France after the Czech Republic and Tyrol. Christophe Arend, chairman of the Franco-German parliamentary group and member of the government majority from the constituency of Forbach, told the “Welt” that there was a lot at stake for Europe. “In this little corner between Moselle and Saarland, part of the future of Europe is currently being decided,” he said. Border closings, which the interior ministers of both countries ruled out for the future after the first wave, are a fatal signal. He now hopes that Germany will “play collectively”.

Mutation could refute Lockdown Light

And of course, a potential explosion in the number of infections is still possible. According to Health Minister Olivier Véran at the end of last week, 20 to 25 percent of corona infections in the country can be traced back to the variant from Great Britain. ©

 The  South African and Brazilian variants only make up about four to five percent.

Even from French science, the warnings about the more contagious Corona variants are not tearing off. ©

 The  chances of controlling its spread without a strict lockdown, warned the epidemiologist Arnaud Fontanet in the Sunday newspaper “Journal du Dimanche”. According to Fontanet, who as a member of the Scientific Council also advises the government, the variant first discovered in Great Britain will establish itself in France around the beginning of March. He warns that France could be surprised by the pace of the epidemic. “Especially since there is a delay between the time action is taken and the time it takes effect.”

Strict lockdown can still come

French Prime Minister Castex threatened a new lockdown at the beginning of February if the situation in the corona pandemic worsened. “©

 The  situation remains worrying,” said the head of government at the time. And: “If we are forced, we will not hesitate to take our responsibility.”

France, with around 67 million inhabitants, is severely affected by the Covid 19 pandemic. More than 3.5 million people have already been infected with the corona virus, 83,212 people have already died (source: John Hopkins University, as of February 18). Macron has meanwhile made vaccinations a top priority. He last promised that any Frenchman who would like to get a vaccination appointment by the end of summer.

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France Macron suddenly relaxes Germany remains lockdown


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