WORLD President Emmanuel Macron outlines France's COVID-19 lockdown easing plans


President Emmanuel Macron outlines France's COVID-19 lockdown easing plans


17:32, May 01, 2021

France's President Emmanuel Macron hopes the night-time curfew will be completely lifted by July 30. /AP

France's President Emmanuel Macron has unveiled a roadmap for a progressive easing of the country's COVID-19 lockdown measures over the next two months.

Macron was quick to add that these restrictions were subject to possible delays in regions where the virus was spreading too fast.

What are the current restrictions?

The current restrictions have been in place since April 3, when France introduced its third national lockdown to cope with a steep rise in COVID-19 cases. There's a curfew in place between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m, and a ban on domestic travel beyond 10 kilometers of your home. If you're traveling for an essential reason, you need to carry proof of permission, what's called an "attestation".

All non-essential businesses have been shut. But unlike previous lockdowns, hairdressers and bookshops have been allowed to stay open. Bars, restaurants and cafes are closed for all but takeaway services.

What will people to be able to do they can't now?

The loosening of restrictions will be incremental and will depend on the situation in hospitals and rates of infection. From early May, secondary school children can return to full-time education and the domestic travel restriction will end.

People will be able to enjoy a beer or a coffee outside on a terrace from mid-May, but people in badly hit regions like Paris may need to wait a bit longer if case numbers remain at stubbornly high levels.

Foreign travel will be allowed from early June, with a "health pass" – either proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test. The curfew will be pushed back from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in May and lifted completely by July.

France intends to gradually reopen its economy throughout the next two months. /AP

What's the timetable?

The plan is for the changes to begin on May 3 and by July France should be fully open with the exception of nightclubs, which must remain shut.

May 3: Secondary school students to return to full-time education, domestic travel ban ends.

May 19: Museums, theaters and cinemas to reopen, as well as non-essential shops and outdoor seating for cafes, bars and restaurants for groups of up to six. Curfew pushed back from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m..

June 9: Foreign travel to resume with the health pass, as well as larger-scale events such as concerts, trade fairs and festivals.

June 30: Curfew to lift completely.

What has been the reaction?

There is relief from many French residents who have been living under some of Europe's toughest lockdown measures that there is some light at the end of the tunnel.

But speaking to people on the streets of Paris, there is also some trepidation: case numbers remain high at over 25,000 per day and pressure on hospitals continues. Many fear the relaxation of the measures won't be permanent, or may need to be significantly pushed back.

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