'We're finally exiting crisis' says French PM as virus infections hit yearly low

People wearing protective face masks walk by a closed restaurant in Nice, France, April 1, 2021.
People wearing protective face masks walk by a closed restaurant in Nice, France, April 1, 2021. REUTERS - ERIC GAILLARD

France’s daily coronavirus infections tally fell to its lowest level since the start of the year Monday, as Prime Minister Jean Castex told French media: “We are finally coming out of this health crisis.”


Just over a week before the reopening of shops, cinemas, museums and bar and restaurant terrasses, a total of 3,292 new cases were reported Monday, with the seven-day moving average of daily infections also at a low.

Meanwhile the number of patients in intensive care dropped to 4,870. While deaths were slightly up Monday at 291, the seven-day average was at its lowest since 26 October.

“We are reaching our goal and it is good news," Castex told Le Parisien in an interview detailing the government’s strategy for reopening the country after months of intensive lockdown.

“There is "a major difference compared to last summer: we have learned from the past and, above all, we have vaccination.”

Gradual reopening

Bringing France out of lockdown was a delicate process that needed to be done gradually and carefully, Castex said, adding that some the rules were a work in progress.

There will be a limit of 50 percent capacity on restaurant terrasses, with a maximum of six people to a table, while in cinemas only one seat in three may be occupied. 

“These rules do not come out of my hat, but are the result of multiple consultations and are based on the opinion of the High Council for Public Health,” Castex said.

“Last night we were still reworking the rules that will apply to amusement parks.”

To minimise the risk of a fourth virus wave, Castex urged French people to remain vigilant and to “respect the rules of the game”.

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