PARIS—French President Emmanuel Macron faces mounting frustration over his management of the pandemic as he weighs tougher restrictions to slow the spread of Covid-19 after a sluggish vaccine rollout.
French officials expect Mr. Macron to announce the restrictions during a national TV address from the Élysée Palace on Wednesday evening after keeping the French public in suspense for months. His options range from shutting down schools completely—a step French authorities previously took pride in avoiding as other European nations closed their schools months ago—to extending restrictions across the country that currently apply to only Paris and other hard-hit areas.
The impending address shows how Mr. Macron’s strategy has reached its breaking point as more contagious variants of the virus sweep through the population. In an attempt to cushion France’s economy, Mr. Macron left the country relatively open during the depths of winter and then hewed to softer restrictions in mid-March as infections surged and intensive-care units in Paris overflowed.
Some French doctors say his refusal to impose strict measures during the winter missed an opportunity to bring the pandemic under control. Now the French are staring into an abyss of uncertainty that risks extending into the summer, when the country’s tourism industry usually shifts into high gear.
France’s vaccine rollout, meanwhile, has been hamstrung by a lack of supplies and mixed messages from Mr. Macron and health authorities across the continent about the safety and effectiveness of the AstraZeneca PLC vaccine. Across the English Channel, about 45% of the U.K. population has received at least one vaccine dose, compared with 12% in France. On Sunday, London recorded zero deaths for the second time since the pandemic began.