- Prime Minister Edouard Philippe also warned that the risk of coronavirus is still high.
- According to the worst scenarios, economic activity could fall by almost 20% in the second quarter.
- "Freedom will be the rule and restriction the exception," said Philippe.
France took new steps towards the return to normalcy on Thursday by announcing the reopening of restaurants, cafes, museums, and beaches as from next Tuesday, June 2. The resumption, however, will take place under restrictions and precautionary measures to prevent a new outbreak.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe also warned that the risk of coronavirus is still high, even though France has lately recorded fewer than 100 Covid-19 deaths for seven straight days.
“This freedom implies constraints, the limitation of groupings to 10 people in public spaces must be maintained,” Mr. Philippe said. He was joined by his Health Minister, Olivier Véran, and Education Minister, Jean-Michel Blanquer, who unveiled plans for “phase 2” of the lifting of the lockdown that was effected on March 17.
France, which has so far recorded 29,000 deaths due to the Covid-19 pandemic, has been declining in the daily number of deaths and serious cases for a few weeks. Hence giving a glimpse of hope to the country’s authorities and its citizens at large.
Given the urgency to revitalize economic activity, which, according to the worst scenarios, could fall by almost 20% in the second quarter, the government authorized restaurants, cafes, and bars to reopen after a closure of more than two months. These establishments will have to respect a maximum limit of ten people per table, and maintain a minimum distance of one meter between each group.
In the nation’s capital, Paris, where the risk of coronavirus spread remains higher than in the rest of the mainland, only the outside terraces of eating and drinking establishments can reopen to clients, said Prime Minister Edouard Philippe. The big museums and monuments, closed for more than two months, will also receive the public again next week, but the use of masks will be mandatory.
To receive tourists again, France must wait at least until June 15, when the government plans to reopen its borders with the countries of the European Union, without quarantine for visitors.
“Within Europe, France supports opening borders without quarantine. We will apply measures of reciprocity with countries that impose quarantine on the French,” Philippe said. As for the external borders, “the decision will be taken collectively with all European countries by June 15,” he added.
Paris’ Orly Airport, closed since March 31, will resume its commercial flights from June 26. Likewise, the 67 million French, who since May 11 could only travel within a radius of fewer than 100 kilometers from their place of residence, will be able to move freely throughout the territory. “Freedom will be the rule and restriction the exception,” said Philippe.
The big parks in Paris, like Buttes Chaumont or Montsouris, green lungs of the French capital, will open their doors next week. The reopening of these spaces in one of the most densely populated capitals in the world was a cause for dispute between the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, in favor of the measure, and the national government, which opposed this to avoid the overcrowding of people.
To mitigate the risks of a second wave of infections, the French will be able to download, from next week, a mobile application developed to track people who have been in contact with those infected. The app, called StopCovid, was endorsed by Parliament on Wednesday, despite the fact that several freedoms organizations have taken a stand against it.