On the eve of Emmanuel Macron’s televised intervention, who is due to announce on Wednesday October 28 new restrictive measures in the face of the second wave of the Covid-19 epidemic, Damien Abad was in Matignon on Tuesday evening at the invitation of the Prime Minister Jean Castex. The chairman of Les Républicains in the National Assembly fears widespread re-containment, calls for schools to remain open, and pleads for the economy to be “preserved as much as possible”. “The second wave was not anticipated,” he laments, deeming that “the government’s strategy to manage this crisis has failed.”
What was your meeting with Jean Castex used for?
The Prime Minister wanted to consult with politicians to find out how we saw things and what proposals could be made. I said two things: that we were faced with an impossible choice, between suffering a hospital tsunami or an economic collapse. Unfortunately, at the present time, there is no longer a good solution because the government’s strategy to deal with this crisis has failed.
Did the Prime Minister say we are heading for containment?
Jean Castex said that we were heading for a tightening of sanitary measures, and that containment was not excluded, including a generalized reconfinement. I have a feeling it will be a national decision and not a local one. In the same way, we should not face a confinement as in March, rather type “metro, work, sleep”, without social life, but allowing part of economic life to continue.
You are opposed to widespread reconfinement. Why ?
Just like when you’ve been sick, the hard part is relapsing. Here, I fear that the French have a hard time accepting being re-defined, that social acceptance is weak. The other worry is that the government’s strategy rests solely on the shoulders of the French. Why has the government not made sure to increase our resuscitation capacity since the end of the first wave? Temporary hospitals had to be opened, more nurses trained. The second wave was not anticipated, the period of calm was not taken advantage of, and the majority voted against the proposals we made on the subject. In addition, generalized confinement has a very high economic and social cost. Be careful not to bring our country to the ground!
What do you recommend?
Schools must be open and economic activity must be preserved as much as possible. We obviously need to strengthen teleworking, encourage differentiated hours for those who have to go to work, and increase the capacity of public transport. If we refine everything, the economy of sport, culture and everything that is based on social relations will suffer. The risk is mass unemployment. Otherwise, it will take a strengthening of economic support measures for businesses, the cancellation of social charges for SMEs, allowing them to have loan facilities.
Has the government given you a perspective?
No, Olivier Véran even spoke of the possibility of a third wave. What we need above all is consistency, transparency and giving the French a perspective. Will the sacrifices of All Saints’ Day allow them to spend the Christmas holidays with their family? Will the government learn from its mistakes? It is a difficult crisis, you have to be humble and responsible.