Fearing a new wave of viruses, France refines the end of lockdown plans

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PARIS (Reuters) – France offered retailers some relief on Thursday, saying it wanted them to reopen when a nationwide lockout ends May 11, although some restrictions may remain in some areas to delay a new wave of coronavirus.

FILE PHOTO: A cyclist rides in front of the deserted department store of Galeries Lafayette in Paris while a lock is imposed to slow the rate of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in France, March 27, 2020. REUTERS / Charles Platiau / File Photo

The government has ruled out the reopening of restaurants, bars and cafes just after the isolation was lifted, and Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said restrictions would likely remain in areas most affected by the virus.

“We want all retailers to be able to open May 11 in the same way on an equal basis,” Le Maire told France Info radio, although he said protocols should first be developed to protect customers and consumers. workers.

France recorded the fourth global death toll from coronavirus, with more than 20,000 deaths, with more than 158,000 infections.

President Emmanuel Macron ordered the lockdown in mid-March to slow the spread of the virus, but the government has been working on a plan that would minimize the chances of France being hit by a second wave of coronavirus cases in the end.

The government is under pressure to revive the economy as soon as possible, even within Macron’s own party.

The mayor did not specify where restrictions on retailers could remain, but the areas hardest hit by the coronavirus are eastern France and the Paris region. Western France was much less affected and it is feared that the removal of travel restrictions between regions could increase its exposure.

The points of sale that will reopen will have to adapt strict rules to limit the number of people in the stores at the same time.

Restaurants, cafes and bars will not reopen until mid-June at the earliest, and sports and religious gatherings will be banned at least until then, but people will in principle no longer need a document to walk the streets or jogging.

PREVENT A SECOND WAVE

Speaking on Thursday during a video call with mayors of key cities, Macron suggested that restrictions on travel between regions would not be put in place, but that different areas should adapt their strategy depending on the harshness of their impact.

“As of today, there will be no arrangements to move from one region to another, but there will be different cases. Some people will remain confined because they are sick or more vulnerable, “said a presidential source.

France will aim to present local authorities with the first details of a plan to cancel the foreclosure around next Tuesday, Macron’s office said, before presenting a more final plan in early May.

The head of the public health authority, Jerome Salomon, added a note of caution, declaring during a parliamentary hearing that the lifting of isolation would depend on a substantial drop in the number of sick and in intensive care .

“France’s objective is not to create collective immunity by creating a second and then a third wave. It seems too dangerous to us, ”said Solomon. “The goal is to prevent the circulation of the virus and create favorable conditions to save time before the arrival of effective drugs or vaccines.”

Less than 10% of the 67 million people in France should have contracted the virus by the end of the lockout.

The government is also considering restricting the movement of the elderly, who are more likely to contract the virus, and the government has made it clear that people will “no longer live as before” after the lockout ends.

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Companies were asked to encourage employees to continue working from home if they could, as this would limit the number of people using public transportation.

The government wants to ensure that face masks are available to the public by the end of the lockdown, although it is unclear whether it will be mandatory to wear them.

The government also aims to increase the number of tests to around 700,000 per week, up from around 200,000 currently, said Salomon. It also assesses whether those who are positive can then be isolated to break the chain of transmission.

Additional reporting by Myriam Rivet and Michel Rose; Edited by Nick McFie, Larry King and Timothy Heritage

Our standards:Principles of the Thomson Reuters Trust.

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