France to ease restrictions this week

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People prepare the terrace of their restaurant in Boulogne-Billancourt, outside of Paris, on Thursday, May 28, 2020. France is reopening its restaurants, bars and cafes from next week as the country eases most of the restrictions in the middle of the coronavirus crisis. Edouard Philippe has defended the gradual lifting of the lock-up so far, saying that the strategy was to avoid causing a second wave. (Photo AP / Christophe Ena)

PARIS – The French way of life is expected to resume largely this week, with most virus restrictions easing as the country prepares for the summer vacation amid the pandemic.

In a speech delivered last week, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe promised that “freedom will finally become the rule again”.

France is one of the countries hardest hit by the coronavirus in the world and was subjected to a strict lockdown for two months before starting to relax restrictions on May 11. Authorities have reported at least 28,596 deaths related to Covid-19.

From Tuesday, restaurants and cafes will reopen, as well as monuments and museums, concert halls and theaters, beaches, campsites, gymnasiums and public pools.

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There is a notable exception for the Paris region, the country most affected by the virus, where many facilities will have to wait until June 22 to reopen.

Philippe said that the French aspire to reopen cafes and restaurants, noting that these “are part of our art of living”.

The guests will not be more than 10 at a table, with at least 3 feet separating each group. Guests should wear masks when moving around the restaurant, and staff should wear them all the time.

In the Paris region, only exterior seats will be authorized.

Cinemas will not reopen until June 22.

And as the summer vacation season looms, the French will again be allowed to travel freely across the country – instead of being limited to 60 miles from home now.

“You can travel, you can go on vacation, but it is probably more reasonable to delay a long trip if possible,” said Philippe.

France aims to reopen its borders with other European countries on June 15, he said.

As France is the most popular tourist destination in the world, the government has urged the French to book a vacation home this summer, in the hope that it will help kick-start the economy.

Philippe is also committed to reviving “cultural and sporting life”. Most stores reopened on May 11 and hotels are now waiting for customers.

Philippe has so far defended the gradual lifting of the lockout, saying the strategy was to avoid triggering a second wave.

“The virus is still there,” but “under control at this point,” said Philippe.

However, “our biggest opponent is the very big rallies,” he warned.

Public gatherings of more than 10 people are still prohibited, contact sports are not allowed, and nightclubs and stadiums will remain closed.

Homework is always recommended whenever possible.

Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said schools will open more widely this week, with classes capped at 15 students. The high schools, which were still closed, will also reopen soon.

– Information for this article was provided by John Leicester of the Associated Press.

Sunday Monday Business on 05/31/2020

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