France to Start ‘Progressive’ Coronavirus Lockdown Exit as of May 11
Northeast France is still experiencing a higher level of coronavirus infections compared with the rest of the country.
France is going to begin a “progressive” process of lifting its coronavirus lockdown measures as of May 11, Prime Minister Édouard Philippe has confirmed.
Next week’s start is thus going to mark the beginning of the end of the nearly months of confinement for France’s 67 million people.
“Next Monday will mark the start of a very gradual process stretching over several weeks at least, which will allow the country to emerge slowly but steadily from the lockdown,” Philippe told a news conference, as cited by France24.
He emphasized that the French government was seeking “the right balance between the indispensable resumption of economic (…) life and the indispensable need” to protect public health.
That is why the relaxing of the coronavirus lockdown measures in France is going to be “differentiated” between different regions of the country.
“The country is cut in two, with the virus circulating more quickly in some regions,” the French Prime Minister explained.
He revealed an updated map dividing the country between red zones with higher infection rates and green zones with fewer infections.
“Some areas are still seeing an active circulation of the virus or a lot of pressure on hospitals. Those are classified as red areas,” Philippe said.
“We will be ending the lockdown there, but some restrictions will remain in place: middle schools will remain closed, and so will parks and public gardens,” he added.
The region of the French capital Paris remains for the time being a red zone as there “the number of cases is going down but remains high – higher than we had hoped for.”
Other red zones including the administrative regions around Calais, Strasbourg and Dijon (see map above).
The French government further urged companies that are able to have their employees working from home to continue to do so.
The others are urged to introduce shifts in order to provide for the continued observation of social distancing as well as to relieve congestion in public transport.
All passengers aged 11 and above will be obliged to wear face masks on public transport vehicles in France, Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne announced, speaking after Prime Minister Philippe.
In the Paris region, commuters will need to carry a document from their employer if they use public transport during rush hour.
What is more, as of May 11, public transport providers will operate at around 50% capacity in order to help enforce social distancing, with full capacity to be reached gradually by early June.
As of Monday, children will be allowed to return to nursery and primary schools across France on a voluntary basis, Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer announced
However, the classes will be limited to 10 children in nursery schools and 15 children in primary schools.
Nearly 26,000 people have died of the novel coronavirus in France, making it the fourth worst-hit country in Europe, and the fifth in the world (after the US, the UK, Italy, and Spain).
(Banner image: Map from a TV grab from France24)