French president hopes to ease Covid restrictions by early May
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France plans to lift restrictions from as early as 3 May, in the belief that daily number of Covid-19 cases, an average of 33,000 infections per day over the past week, will soon begin falling. This comes as the government added India to the list of countries facing increased travel restrictions.
President Emmanuel Macron chaired a weekly meeting with top ministers Wednesday to evaluate the government's efforts to combat the Covid crisis and to discuss the easing of restrictions in place.
The prospect of relief from the country's third lockdown reflects the government's conviction that the number of daily Covid cases will fall to around 20,000 within a month, a government source said.
Public health authorities on Tuesday reported 43,098 new cases of the virus, and 375 deaths over a 24 hour period, with hospitals still under pressure.
Government spokesman Gabriel Attal told a press conference on Wednesday that the "first encouraging signs" of the effect of the last three weeks of restrictions were being felt, but that the "epidemic is taking more time than last November to slow down due to the presence of variants."
India has now been added to the list of countries facing new travel restrictions after a new mutation of the virus was discovered there.
Visitors from India, French Guiana, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and South Africa arriving in France must self isolate for 10 jours as well as providing negative tests.
Peak of third wave
French Health Minister Olivier Véran told the press on Tuesday that the country was seeing a very slight reduction in terms of the number of infections, but warned that "we are still at a peak of the epidemic, and we must continue our efforts."
If the figures continue to improve, the government has proposed a calendar to reopen schools, businesses and travel on a gradual basis from early next month:
- Kindergarten and primary school students are set to return on Monday, and older students on 3 May.
- 10 kilometre travel rule will be lifted and inter-regional travel permitted from 3 May,
- Restaurants to serve patrons outdoors, limited capacity from mid-May,
- Cinemas, theatres and museums expected to reopen with reduced capacity from mid-May,
- Non-food businesses will also open their doors mid-May.
The proposal to lift the 6am-7pm curfew has not yet been discussed.
Vacciner, vacciner, vacciner. pic.twitter.com/XTcknYaE5f— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) April 20, 2021
Macron is also counting on France meeting its target of vaccinating 20 million people with at least one dose by mid-May, up from 13 million currently.
So far, a quarter of the adult population has had at least one injection.
Among these, 4.8 million have received two injections, the health minister Olivier Véran said on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the ministry for employment announced that around 400,000 employees over 55 will now be eligible for priority access to vaccination from 24 April.
Over 20 professions had been added to the priority list, including public transport drivers, cleaning and security personnel, supermarket and food manufacturing workers.
Since 17 April, employees in the education sector have been eligible for priority vaccination.
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