The French will be able to eat again on restaurant terraces, visit museums and go to the movies from May 19, the first step in a slow reopening process, according to plans announced by French President Emmanuel Macron this Thursday, despite a high rate of covid-19 infections.
France, one of the European countries most affected by the pandemic, with 104,000 deaths, has been operating at half gas for months, with its restaurants, cafes, museums and show rooms closed, while its neighboring countries have already begun to lift their restrictions .
“We must return to our French art of living,” Macron said in an interview with the regional press devoted to the progressive lifting of the restrictions in force and the reactivation of economic and social activities.
“Now we have a vaccine that gives us a durable way out of the crisis,” the president justified.
His plan, divided into four phases, foresees to reopen the terraces of restaurants and cafes, shops and cultural places, including museums and cinemas, on May 19.
We will have to wait until June 9 to be able to eat or have a coffee inside a restaurant or bar.
The curfew, which applies throughout France today from 7:00 p.m., will pass at 9:00 p.m. from May 19 and at 11:00 p.m. (9:00 p.m. GMT) from June 9, and will be fully lifted on June 30.
The traffic restrictions, which prevent the French from traveling more than 10 kilometers from their home, except for compelling reasons, will be lifted on May 3.
On the same day, secondary school students will return to classrooms, a week after primary school students.
The goal is “to get back to as normal a life as possible,” Macron said.
– Certificate of immunity –
As of June 30, events with more than 1,000 people will be able to be held, but in order to access them, a negative test or a certificate of immunity must be presented.
The president ruled out that this practice is extended to be able to go to restaurants, theaters or museums. “But in places where there are crowds, like stadiums, festivals, fairs or exhibitions, it would be absurd” not to do so, he said.
However, this calendar could have to be adapted in case the health situation worsens, warned Macron. Currently, there are eight departments, including Paris, in which the incidence exceeds 400 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, he noted.
These announcements were welcomed by the sectors most affected by the pandemic.
“We finally have dates … and we can organize ourselves to work,” said Roland Héguy, president of France’s main hospitality union.
At the health level, the situation remains delicate: on Wednesday the number of hospitalized covid patients exceeded 30,000, something that had not been seen since the beginning of April.
At the same time, in the last seven days, the number of positive cases (27,000 on average in the last week) is lower than that of a month ago (around 40,000).
A case of the Indian variant of the coronavirus was detected in southwestern France, the regional health agency of the New Aquitaine region announced on Thursday.
For Catherine Hill, an epidemiologist at a Paris hospital, a large-scale lifting of the restrictions would be “absolutely reckless”, noting that, with 5,879, the number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care was still higher than at the point height of the second wave, in November.
The government hopes that the vaccination campaign, which has accelerated in recent weeks, will help keep the virus under control.
So far, 14.9 million people have received one dose and more than 6 million have received both doses (that is, 11.5% of the population of legal age).
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