President Emmanuel Macron has announced that France will be lifting several significant coronavirus restrictions.
Among the activities that will be resuming throughout the country are the operation of restaurants and cafes, visiting of retirement homes, and the opening of borders to other EU countries.
President Macron, who announced the lifting of restrictions in time for what he has described as “the summer like no other”, said that this was the country’s “first victory” against the COVID-19 outbreak in a television address on Sunday.
Retirement homes, which have been of particular concern throughout the outbreak, are now able to welcome family members who have been unable to see vulnerable elderly citizens ever since the lockdown began on 17 March. Furthermore, travellers from EU countries will be able to visit France, although people travelling from Spain or the UK will have to face a two-week isolation period upon entry. However, Macron emphasised that this does not mean that the threat of COVID-19 has subsided.
“this does not mean that the virus has gone and that we can completely drop our guard,” he said, according to BBC. “The summer of 2020 will be a summer unlike any other and we will need to watch the evolution of the epidemic to be prepared in case it comes back with renewed strength.”
Restaurants and cafes reopened around most of the country earlier this month, with social distancing measures enforced, and they will also be allowed to reopen in the worst-hit city, Paris, today. All schools except for high schools will reopen from 22 June. Another significant development is that the municipal elections, which were scheduled for March, will be held on 28 June. However Macron did add that mass gatherings needed to be “tightly controlled”, because they are “the main occasions for spreading the virus”.
France has reported over 194,000 cases of coronavirus, with over 29,000 people losing their lives to it, according to Johns Hopkins University, although their daily infections have fallen significantly over recent weeks.