France’s education minister has come under fire after confirming reports that he announced stringent new Covid-19 measures for schools while on vacation on the Spanish party island Ibiza.
“I regret the symbolism” of Ibiza, Jean-Michel Blanquer told lawmakers on Tuesday.
However he did caveat his regret. “In winter it’s not at all like in summer,” he told French TV channel TF1 Tuesday, “I was just outside, in contact with the government.”
Blanquer announced the measures in a telephone interview with French newspaper Le Parisien, published on January 2, the magazine’s editor said on Twitter, although reporters did not know he was in Spain at the time.
The measures included increased testing for school-age children following a classmate testing positive, to avoid closing classes.
“There’s really a break between what Ibiza represents and what colleagues were living daily the day before this return to school,” Guislaine David, spokersperson for teaching union SNUipp-FSU told French broadcaster Franceinfo Wednesday. French teachers went on strike on January 13 over the new Covid-19 measures.
Speaking before the National Assembly, Blanquer said that his presence in Ibiza did not affect his decision about schools’ Covid-19 protocols, or his ability to perform his functions as minister of education. Blanquer did not break French travel restrictions by holidaying in Spain.
France on Tuesday reported a record high of 464,769 new Covid-19 cases in a day, surpassing its previous daily record registered last week by nearly 100,000 cases, according to French health ministry data. There were 375 more fatalities, bringing the country’s death toll to 128,629, according to Johns Hopkins University.