Their horizon is barely cleared that, already, a good number of students and restaurant owners are wondering what they could have done to deserve such a chaotic year.
Tuesday evening, Emmanuel Macron presented a new deconfinement plan.
A strategy deployed in three stages, with the reopening of businesses on November 28 and the establishment of the curfew on December 15.
The reopening of restaurants and the total resumption of face-to-face classes in high schools being, for their part, hoped for on January 20, when university students should wait a fortnight more.
Shops, end of confinement, curfew, restaurants ... the schedule for the coming weeks
Simply "hoped for" because the Head of State wanted to be very clear: if the epidemic indicators deteriorate by then, all these announcements will be called into question.
A question then arises immediately, given the constraints: why did you opt for this final date of January 20?
The threat of "Covid factories"
During his televised address, Emmanuel Macron delivered part of the answer.
"By this date, we will have sufficient hindsight when the end of year holidays return," he assured.
As you know, we always need a fortnight to see exactly the consequences of changing our behavior.
And, therefore, it is around January 20 that we can then take, if possible, new opening decisions.
The executive knows he is walking on eggshells.
The Prime Minister himself said he still feared that the end of the year celebrations would turn into "Covid factories".
These concerns persist.
"It is certain that the end of the year celebrations will generate a mix and gatherings," says one in the entourage of Olivier Véran.
The spread of the virus is not through magical thinking, it is science.
It is favored by contacts.
There is therefore no question of returning to the method of last May and to total deconfinement.
In the government, we explain wanting to avoid the "stop and go", a succession of confinements and deconfinements ... For as many epidemic waves.
And here is the method of stages of 15 successive days.
The date of January 20 then becomes clear.
“The President of the Republic announces the reopening of shops on November 28, we will see on December 15 what is the health impact of this measure.
The same goes for January 20.
We will then know what the impact of the end-of-year celebrations has been, ”we summarize in Health.
"Reconfinement is like putting spoiled meat in the freezer"
Experience has indeed shown the existence of a gap between any restriction or reduction measure and its health effects.
This explains, for example, with all due respect to conspiracy theories, that the mortality curve continued to increase after the implementation of the two confinements.
The government, this time, has set a goal, repeated by Emmanuel Macron.
“If the number of contaminations remains below 5,000 cases per day, sports halls and restaurants may reopen and the curfew may be postponed.
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Still, some specialists are already contesting the validity of the method.
"You can base yourself on daily contaminations, the incidence rate or even the zero R (number of people that a contagious individual can contaminate, Editor's note): as long as we are not able to massively test the population and to know precisely who is contaminated, these indicators will not speak volumes and will underestimate the reality of the epidemic.
The virus will continue to circulate, laments epidemiologist Catherine Hill.
Reconfinement, therefore, amounts to putting rotten meat in the freezer.
When you take it out, it remains spoiled.
Will we have enough hindsight?
Measuring the effectiveness of a curfew or containment based on the incidence rate is complex.
As proof: several metropolises reached their peak a few days before or after their implementation.
The numbers are not enough to explain it.
From there to saying that the hindsight will not be sufficient on January 20 to assess the impact of the Christmas holidays, there is a step that the epidemiologist Antoine Flahault does not want to take too quickly.
“At this level of testing, the data remains interesting,” he explains.
On the other hand, it is true that weak signals are more difficult to detect during the recession period.
After the first confinement, the virus probably circulated in silence for a long time before resurfacing.
“This time the situation is not the same.
The first deconfinement happened at the beginning of the summer, ”warns Antoine Flahault, however.
Data to which those around Olivier Véran say they are sensitive.
"What will be the consequences of the drop in temperatures, which have the unfortunate tendency to be high when we confine and drop when we deconfine?"
It will have to be taken into account.
Conversely, Antoine Flahault believes today it is perfectly possible to see certain territories spared at the end of this second confinement, thanks to a much greater immunity than it was last May.
Setting a course for the French
These health uncertainties weigh heavily on the management of the crisis.
But the economic stakes too.
For weeks, catering professionals have not stopped warning about the economic tragedy that threatens the sector.
As such, the date of January 20 allows at least to set a course, a perspective and to try to reassure.
Several representatives of restaurateurs have also pointed out since the presidential announcements.
“The decision of the President of the Republic, we expected.
Unfortunately, this is not a surprise, ”reacted for example to AFP Didier Chenet, president of the GNI (National Group of Independents), employers' union of independents in the hotel and restaurant sector.
"It is more reasonable to open on January 20 than to make a
stop and go
in December, after 15 days of opening".
The same goes for high school and college students, who still have to wait before resuming fully face-to-face lessons.
“The date of January 20 is not aimed at restaurants or students, we would like to remind people around the Minister of Health.
What is taken into account is an audience in which the virus is likely to circulate more, which ultimately leads to the spread of the virus.
Deconfinement by stages, subject to health objectives, therefore makes it possible to spare the goat and the cabbage.
“When making these decisions, there is a parameter that cannot be overlooked.
It is acceptability.
Partial containment was decided in New Zealand after the discovery of a case.
Try to do that in Paris!
», Confides a ministerial source.
A vaccine effect?
This was the last point mentioned by Emmanuel Macron during his speech on the health aspect.
The little touch of hope, the arrival of vaccines.
“We will probably start, from the end of December, the beginning of January, subject to validation by the health authorities, by vaccinating the most fragile people and therefore the oldest.
Successive stages will be presented in order, gradually, to allow the vaccination of as many people as possible, ”he explained.
Vaccinate against Covid-19 at the end of the year?
Could this calendar have prompted the government to opt for the date of January 20?
“As it stands, it would be a little premature, nuance Antoine Flahault.
For the moment, it is a question of vaccinating the most vulnerable people, not of blocking the epidemic.
An argument shared by the government.
“The vaccine did not work directly.
Already because it will be necessary that the French agree to be vaccinated and that we must obtain the approval of the competent authorities to start the campaign, recalls a ministerial source.
The signals are positive, but we are not betting on reopening the universities because the elderly would be vaccinated.
The vaccine will not fix everything right away.
While waiting for the big night, the restrictions remain.
“The President of the Republic announced that a curfew would follow the confinement.
It will not be possible to go out to party in the evening, there will still be constraints and we must be aware of it.
Even after January 20.