France’s environmentalists urge the government to reopen green spaces or risk citizens health amid coronavirus de-escalation

France’s environmentalists urge the government to reopen green spaces or risk citizens health amid coronavirus de-escalation

FRENCH environmental association Respire has called the government’s decision to keep parks and gardens closed in France’s red zones, “completely counterproductive” to combatting coronavirus.

Yesterday (Monday, May 25) environmental association Respire announced they had filed an appeal with France’s high administrative court, le Conseil d’État, demanding that parks and gardens be reopened in red zones in France, concentrated in Paris and the North East, on physical and mental health grounds.

In a statement published on its website, Olivier Blond, director of Respire, said: “As they don’t have access to public spaces, people mass together on pavements and roadsides. They don’t respect social distancing and expose themselves to increased risk of Covid-19 transmission. The situation is absurd.”

Respire argues that access to parks could be safely given in red zones with regulations in place, such as bans on picnics or staying in one spot for too long. It also pointed out that as well as easing the risk of viral transmissions, parks and gardens should be reopened on numerous health grounds.

Mr Blond said: “Those who live in cramped housing without access to greenery, those who don’t have the means to spend three months in their second home. There is a scandalous inequality that must be resolved rapidly.” The situation is a “medical urgency” in Paris and Ile-de-France, according to Mr Blond.

In the capital, open spaces such as the Champ de Mars, in front of the Eiffel Tower, have been accessible to the public since May 11. The Bois de Boulogne and the Bois de Vincennes, two large parks on either side of Paris, known as the city’s ‘green lungs,’ are also open. But the vast majority of parks, gardens and squares remain closed, despite multiple requests to reopen them from the capital’s mayor, Anne Hidalgo.

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Damon Mitchell

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