French PM outlines roadmap for lifting coronavirus lockdown

French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe on Tuesday presented the government’s plan to gradually lift the nationwide lockdown that has been put in place to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

As part of the plan, all shops and markets will be allowed to reopen from May 11, except cafés and restaurants which will remain closed until at least early June. Places that tend to draw large crowds, such as big museums, cinemas, and concert venues will also remain shut for now.

The PM said that once the lockdown is eased business owners will be able to require customers to wear face masks and supported the continuation of teleworking wherever possible for at least the first three weeks.

Schools will reopen gradually, starting with primary schools and day care centres while middle schools will open a week later. The number of students per class will not exceed 15.

Furthermore, wearing a protective mask will be mandatory for all passengers of public transport, but long-distance travel will only be allowed for urgent professional or family purposes.

“Thanks to widespread efforts, there will be enough masks for everyone in the country starting May 11” Philippe said, noting that France is currently procuring 100 million surgical masks every week and from May will receive 20 million reusable masks for public use.

The PM added that beaches would remain closed until June 1 and signalled the end of the 2019-2020 professional sports season, including football. Family gatherings of up to ten people will also be allowed.

The French government aims to carry out 700,000 tests a week as part of the country’s triple strategy of “protection, testing and isolation” on which the gradual exit from coronavirus lockdown is based.

France, that has so far recorded 165,911 coronavirus cases and 23,660 fatalities, has been on a strict lockdown since March 17.




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