“Please do not schedule any interviews on Thursday and Friday.
It is this laconic message sent at the beginning of the week by Matignon which put the chip in the ear of many advisers in the ministries.
To tell the truth, for some time, many sensed a speech of Emmanuel Macron.
But when ?
He wallows in silence.
“People keep repeating to the head of state that this is the absolute disaster.
So he learned to procrastinate.
He wants to speak when he has decisions to announce, ”says an intimate.
In the meantime, he consults at all costs - ten days ago, he discussed a subject of virology with the controversial professor Didier Raoult.
The president's major concern?
What fate reserve for schools, hit hard.
Restrictions extended to the entire territory, schools closed: review Emmanuel Macron's speech
While their closure seems inexorable, Jean-Michel Blanquer is leading the battle to avoid the worst.
"Not a second time," he hammers in high places, referring to the first confinement.
"No question of closing six weeks either, otherwise the dropout for the little ones can be terrible," he also explains to employees, when a rumor is circulating around this track.
For high schools and colleges, he wants to extend distance education.
Monday evening March 29, he even goes to the executive office of LREM to try to convince his camp.
The next morning, the Minister of National Education is received at the Elysée.
Then, at the end of the afternoon in Matignon.
"He had to be cajoled," sums up an observer.
Because the status quo is not retained at the top of the state.
“Tuesday, Emmanuel Macron saw that the incidence rates were increasing in all territories, reports one of his relatives.
In short, there was not a strong enough signal to say that we could hold out for a few more days.
So, it was time to speak up.
In the evening, the President and his Prime Minister discuss at length.
Their fourth meeting in 48 hours.
The duo agree on the merger of the holidays of the three zones.
But they agree to say as little as possible around them, for fear of leaks.
“Between Matignon and Elysée, things got pretty tight between Tuesday and Wednesday,” advises an adviser.
As usual, Castex was on a very sanitary line, and Macron played more on the feeling of public opinion.
The surveys on the morale of the French, which go back to him, are particularly worrying.
"Don't rush to the sets"
On Wednesday March 31 in the morning, the 55th health defense council therefore begins in an atmosphere tinged with gravity.
“On the idea of a containment of the type of that of March 2020, there were those who pushed for, in particular Véran and Castex, on the basis of health explanation, describes a source of the executive.
The president hammered several times that people were on edge, that they could not stand another turn of the screw and that it was therefore necessary to go to another path.
They ended up getting along.
A compromise solution is adopted for the schools: three weeks of closure.
A few hours before his speech, Emmanuel Macron stepped up to ask that the next announcements be well implemented.
“We do not go through the mess again with the certificates.
You tuck me that, ”he warns several times.
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"Your first instinct after tonight should not be to go for a run in the media, do not rush to the sets," he adds, during the Council of Ministers.
But to go see, for example, the social partners in your perimeters, to see the possible things to refine.
There will be a lot to do in the coming days.
There is what I say and there is what to do.
In short, he puts pressure on his troops.
"I call to stop this kind of bullshit"
In the afternoon, the Head of State calls the President of the Senate, Gérard Larcher, that of the Assembly, Richard Ferrand or of the Association of Mayors of France, François Baroin.
But also the head of the Scientific Council, Professor Delfraissy.
While the Elysée teams begin to write the speech, on the other side of the Seine, Jean Castex continues the last meetings.
He is piloting one on the regional ones with Gérald Darmanin and a few ministers.
All the participants are campaigning for the election to be maintained in June.
> Gérard Larcher: "We live in the Republic of the Oracle"
Then, Castex continues with a video to which all members of the government are invited.
“Solidarity must be visible and maximum,” he told them.
But by discovering some stale remarks live on social networks, the Prime Minister bangs his fist on the table: “I now seriously call on everyone to stop this kind of bullshit.
8 pm, the face of Emmanuel Macron appears on the screens. More than 30 million viewers have attended his seventh high mass since the start of the crisis. “We make the choice of confidence… and, if I may say so, of breathing. The head of state unveils the new restrictions. But promises a glimmer of hope: "From mid-May", thanks to vaccination, cultural and sports establishments, bars and restaurants will begin to open gradually. This is the president's new bet.