By Damon Mitchell • 28 April 2020 • 12:23
FRANCE will today reveal how it plans to lift its six-week-old lockdown to combat the Coronavirus on May 11, with cafes set to stay shut but schools controversially being allowed to reopen.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe will unveil the measures in an address to parliament from 1pm, with the government seeking to tread a fine line between the need to kick-start the economy whilst respecting public health.
President Emmanuel Macron announced earlier this month that the lockdown would be lifted from May 11 but did not confirm any future measures.
Encouraging signs have emerged over the last few days, with the numbers of patients in intensive care and in hospital falling steadily.
Despite the importance of getting the economy back on its feet, the government is well aware of the risk of a second wave of infection, and French life will be nowhere near back to normal on May 11. France is expected to restart education after Macron said schools could gradually reopen from May 11. However, this has proved controversial; the government’s own scientific council said it favoured schools reopening only in the autumn while insisting it also acknowledged the “political” decision of the government to reopen them earlier.
Another issue that will be closely watched is whether the wearing of masks will become obligatory on public transport, which is expected to ramp up capacity from May 11. After facing criticism over the lack of face masks, the government has said France plans to make more than 26 million non-medical masks available for purchase by the end of this week.
Some more shops will likely be allowed to reopen, while it is possible that people will again be allowed to move freely between cities. Restaurants and cafes will remain shut and the government is not expected to tell them until the end of May when they can reopen.
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