Macron’s attention turns to Covid after summer break of international crises

By Luis Miguel Pascual

Paris, Aug 23 (efe-epa).- French president Emmanuel Macron is concluding his busy summer break this week with his attention set to shift to the growing number of coronavirus cases in France.

Macron’s vacation offered little rest for the head of state, who dedicated his time away from the Elysée to intervene in a number of international incidents.

The explosion in Beirut, the assassination of six French aid workers in Niger, tensions between Greece and Turkey, the coup d’état in Mali and the unrest in Belarus have all kept the president occupied.

But his international agenda is to cede to a pressing national concern as, four months after the nationwide lockdown began to be gradually eased, France is once again watching its Covid-19 caseload mount.

Macron is acutely aware of the challenge and on Tuesday is set to present a plan to safeguard the economy.

But rather than talking about a financial bailout, the meeting on Tuesday could likely give rise to the strengthening of restrictive measures.

In recent days the number of new infections in France has topped 3,000, although the mortality rate is lower than in March and April given that the spread is predominantly centered among younger people.

The coming few weeks will be decisive. The French are due to bring their summer break to a close just as schools are slated to reopen, two of the main concerns for the government.

The use of face masks and social distancing will be obligatory in offices and schools and the government is in favor of generalized testing to get a handle on local outbreaks and avoid the need for draconian measures at a national level.

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