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Paris lockdown

Paris lifts lockdown on parks, gardens to let city dwellers breathe

The Buttes-Chaumont in northesastern Paris was one of many parks to fill up quickly on Saturday as the city reopened its green areas, 30 May 2020.
The Buttes-Chaumont in northesastern Paris was one of many parks to fill up quickly on Saturday as the city reopened its green areas, 30 May 2020. ALAIN JOCARD / AFP

Parisian parks and gardens reopened their doors on Saturday, two days after the green light was given by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, as the coronavirus epidemic continues to decline in France.

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Parisian green spaces were opened in advance of the official start of "phase 2" of lockdown easing set for next Tuesday to allow the inhabitants of the capital to enjoy the sunshine during the extended Pentecost weekend.

RFI's Mike Woods took a walk around one Paris park on Satruday morning.

The parks and gardens had been the subject of an arm wrestling match between the government and the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, who demanded that they be opened to respond to the needs of its citizens to get out of their apartments against a backdrop of campaign for the second round of municipal elections.

Unlike intramural parks, the large open spaces the outskirts of the capital, such as the Bois de Boulogne in the west and the Bois de Vincennes in the east, have remained accessible during the entire containment period.

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Many Parisians rushed to the two parks as soon as the exit restrictions on 11 May were lifted, to picnic with family or friends, despite calls to the compliance with physical distancing measures and prohibition gatherings of more than ten people.

The quays of the Seine and the canals that run through the city were also stormed. However, the transition of the Île-de-France region from "red" to "orange" on the Ministry of Health's map of epidemic activity presented on Thursday finally got the better of the government,  forcing the authorities to give up the idea of "dynamic parks" in which it would have been allowed to be walk but not to sit on the lawns or to picnic.

Even still certain rules remain in place. Visitors must maintain social distancing, are advised to wear face masks – though these are not obligatory – and gatherings must not exceed ten people.

Cafes and restaurants will reopen throughout the country from June 2.

 

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