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France’s PM Édouard Philippe cautiously lifts most of Covid-19 lockdown measures

The beach, an elusive place for Parisians...
The beach, an elusive place for Parisians... FRED TANNEAU / AFP

Beaches, parks and lakes are open to all as of June 2, according to France’s prime minister, Edouard Philippe, as he addressed the second phase of easing the lockdown on Thursday afternoon.

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“The results are good regarding the health plan… Good, but not sufficiently good for everything to return to normal,” Philippe said. He called for everyone to remain alert.

Parks and gardens will open, but meeting in groups of  more than 10 people are still prohibited.

Parks and gardens will once again be open as Parisians cooped up in small apartments will be able to enjoy the outdoors. Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo had repeatedly called on the government to open the parks for Parisians.

Bars and restaurants will return to normal in the Green Zone, an area comprising of most of France, while in the orange zones, terraces, or outdoor seating, will open.

Not more than 10 people can sit per table in restaurants, and the tables must be at least 1 metre apart.

Those in the Green Zone will be able to go back to the gym as of June 2, but those in the Orange Zone will be able to return as of 21 June 21. Cinemas will be open to all on June 22.

Stadiums, sports, discotheques will remain closed until at least the  June 21st, according to the prime minister.

Holidays

For those who want to vacation outside of France, they will have to wait for the green light from the European Union after June 15, but the ban from travelling past 100 km for those in the original ‘red zones’, including Ile-de-France (Paris and its suburbs), Mayotte, and Guyana are lifted as of this weekend.

The borders are currently closed outside of Europe.

Those living in French overseas territories, especially Mayotte and Guyana, will need to follow specific guidelines adopted to each place.

Those in Metropolitan France will not be able to travel to the overseas territories unless it is for health, professional or family business.

All regions of France, with the exception of Val d’Oise and Mayotte, are now considered in the green zone.

Schools to reopen,

Jean-Michel Blanquer, education minister, announced that 82.5 percent of elementary schools have opened since the 11 May, but are looking to open all the schools by next year.

He said some 58 percent of schools are open in the Val d’Oise region which had been hard hit by the pandemic.

As of June 2, all schools will be open. Families can bring their children at least for a portion of the school week.

Blanquer said that there will be 15 students maximum in the classroom.

Some 95.5 percent of colleges have opened since May 11.  As of June 2, colleges located in the Green Zone will allow students in the 3rd and 6th form to return.

Secondary schools, or lycées, in the Green Zone, will open as of June 2, following all the health protocols. Students in the sixth and fifth in the orange zone will be able to go back to school as of June 2.

The oral exam in French for the baccalaureate, or leaving exam, is cancelled for 2020.

Infections going down 

Olivier Véran, health minister went through the indicators of Covid-19 spread, showing a map of the clusters of cases throughout France. He explained that 6.14 people tested positive out of 100,000 people, and 1.9 percent tested positive for Covid-19. “Wearing masks are highly recommended,” he said.

On average 77 people are infected by a sick person, also called the R-value.

Ile-de-France, Mayotte and Guyana have been declassified, moving into the Orange Zone from the Red Zone.

In Ile-de-France, the region of Paris, a little more than 40% of the people are in intensive care, which Véran says is due to the region’s population density, the numbers using public transportation and large movement of people.

Mayotte has more than 60 percent of those infected in intensive care.

Philippe reiterated that the data taken from the new app, StopCovid, created to track those with the virus will be anonymous.Installing the app is voluntary and free. He called on people to use the app “to protect themselves and others.”

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