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France enters another blockade, fatigue exceeds progress

Paris-At the Montparnasse train station in Paris, the contrast couldn’t be stronger.

About a year ago, in the face of the first national blockade against the severe coronavirus epidemic, Parisians desperately fled by train, turning Montparnasse into a place of fear and anxiety, and the capital into a ghost town.

But on the Friday morning before the start of the third national blockade, there were relatively few people at Montparnasse station and other stations in Paris. This sentiment is a severe fatigue before the restriction. This restriction will once again severely restrict travel throughout France, restrict people̵

7;s activities in their communities, and close schools.

“A little tired,” said Muriel Sallandre, who is taking a train to visit her parents in western France, but plans to return to Paris in a few days. “Lack of foresight depends on the government’s information-all of this is ultimately frustrating.”

After the announcement of the new lockdown measures on Wednesday night, many French people immediately rushed to buy train tickets. Therefore, due to the mix of passengers planning to spend the latest blockade outside of Paris and visitors visiting relatives during Easter, the metro station in the capital may become more crowded on weekends. After restrictions were imposed in the capital area a few weeks ago, some Parisians also left the capital.

However, most of the panic has given way to resignation, so I did not expect as much as last year’s flight. Although President Emmanuel Macron promised that this will be France’s last national blockade before life returns to normal, there is no clear bright spot at the end of the tunnel: with the total number of deaths in France due to the epidemic With close to 100,000 people, the infection rate is soaring. In other parts of the European Union, the progress of the vaccination campaign is still very slow.

Marie-Yvonne Bougrel, 53, said: “As things progress, I think we will be subject to stricter lockdowns within a month.” She does not think the measures taken are indeed effective.

Like many others in the train station, Ms. Bougrell said she was disappointed by the slow launch of vaccines that had plagued France since late December, adding that she only knew one person who had received the vaccine.

In the national television broadcast on Wednesday, about half of France’s population of 67 million, after months of resisting the advice of epidemiologists and pressure from political opponents, President Macron announced another nationwide blockade. Mr. Macron did not succeed in betting that despite the increasing number of infections and the emergence of new powerful variants, if enough people are vaccinated at a steady rate, the nationwide lockdown can be avoided.

However, logistics and other self-produced and self-sold problems have exacerbated the difficulties of this campaign, which relies on vaccines that have not been realized as scheduled, especially vaccines from the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, which has fallen into production shortages. Said that its contract requires it to fulfill the order to the UK first.

France and other European countries are betting heavily on the vaccine to get them out of the pandemic. The vaccine was also plagued by concerns about rare but sometimes fatal side effects that caused them to temporarily suspend its use. Some countries still do not give or restrict who gets it.

Among the French, as other countries, especially the United Kingdom and the United States, have recovered from a catastrophic epidemic response through successful vaccination campaigns, the mood has become even more bleak. In France, only 13% of the population has received at least one vaccine, while the proportions of Britons and Britons are 47% and 30%, respectively.

At the train station, Brigitte Bidaut, a retired pharmacist, said that she was “shocked by what is happening in France”.

“The U.S. is in chaos. Now they have to get 2 million vaccinations every day. She said that the British are in a mess, and things are better now. We don’t have any medicine. Even after four weeks of lock-in, I still can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. .”

A poll released on Thursday showed that most French people are skeptical about the ultimate impact of the new blockade. In the survey results reflecting population fatigue, 70% of French respondents said they approved the new national lockdown measures, but 46% of French respondents said they plan to take measures.

Among young people, young people have been hit hard by a crisis that has opened up psychological trauma and plunged them into serious economic uncertainty. Two-thirds of the interviewees said they would violate new rule.

In a country extremely sensitive to its ranking in the global pecking order, France’s frequent handling of the epidemic and subsequent vaccination campaigns have caused widespread dissatisfaction. Last year, France found that it needed to rely on China and other countries to resist masks, test kits and other basic tools to fight the epidemic.

This time, the country found itself completely dependent on external aid to produce vaccines, which was a heavy blow to the country that produced Louis Pasteur and enjoyed a long history of medical breakthroughs.

Antoine Levy, a French economist and PhD candidate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said that France has invested heavily in confinement measures, putting millions of workers on paid leave, and gradually tightening restrictions on people’s activities, but rarely Develop vaccines.

He said: “Almost no investment seems to be the only way out of the crisis, but it has accepted a year of public freedom and huge economic sacrifices.”

Levy said that as countries compare their initial handling of the epidemic, vaccine campaigns and economic recovery plans, the French “feel that we have failed in all aspects.”

Mr. Levi said that the third national embargo gave the impression that France has returned to the first embargo in March 2020, “Nothing has changed.”

He said: “This is the reason for this sense of decline.”

Others pointed out that France is the only permanent member of the UN Security Council that has not yet developed a vaccine: although the United States and the United Kingdom have recovered their reputations for their vaccines, and China and China have recovered some damage to their reputations. Russia has deployed its own vaccine in search of global influence, and France has become a bystander.

In late January, the Pasteur Institute announced that after disappointing test results, it would abandon research on its vaccine candidates. Just when France’s largest pharmaceutical company Sanofi said its vaccine was not It is very likely to be ready one month after the end of 2021. the best.

Macron recently appointed François Bayrou as long-term government planning commissioner. He said in a radio interview in January: “This is a sign of the country’s decline, and this decline is unacceptable. of.”

The question of vaccines has made many French people of all ages deeply suspicious and pessimistic.

22-year-old student Victor Cormier said: “I am still waiting for observation, but I think it is an illusion to believe in returning to normal.

Andrée Girard, a 61-year-old retiree, said she was unable to make appointments for vaccinations. She believes that the new restrictions will not stop the epidemic forever, and is worried that France will fall into a “stop and go” state in the foreseeable future.

Speaking of Mr. Macron’s promise on Wednesday when he announced that France will reopen in mid-May, Ms. Gillard said: “I have doubts about a light at the end of the tunnel. They have been fulfilling it for the past year. promise.”

She said: “I don’t believe it, I don’t believe it anymore.” “I don’t know if we will get a new life.”

Gaëlle Fournier contributed the report.

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