France Macron comes out of the third lock of COVID-19

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Empty banks of the Seine are seen after police forced crowds of socially disorienting people to leave, amid a coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, on a sunny afternoon in Paris, France, March 6, 2021. REUTERS / Michel Rose

France will begin to ease a nighttime curfew and allow cafes, bars and restaurants to offer outside service from May 19, as President Emmanuel Macron charts a way out of a third COVID-19 lockdown.

Macron, who is under pressure from business groups and a COVID-tired public to reopen the economy, announced in an interview with regional newspapers a four-phase plan to unwind the stay order at the one month house in France.

The easing will come despite the number of new daily cases and COVID-19 patients treated in intensive care being much higher than when the previous two lockdowns were canceled. Macron said the vaccine rollout made this possible.

“I have never played on the health and safety of our citizens,” Macron said. “I take responsibility for the choices I make, but they are never bets.”

The plan calls for the nighttime curfew to be pushed back to 9:00 p.m. from 7:00 p.m. CET on May 19 and to 11:00 p.m. from June 9, before being removed entirely on June 30.

Museums, cinemas and theaters will also be allowed to reopen on May 19. Foreign tourists with a “health pass” will be able to visit France again from June 9, according to the calendar published by Ouest France and other newspapers.

The schedule is tentative and could be delayed region by region in areas where intensive care units are near saturation or where the incidence rate of COVID-19 exceeds 400 cases per 100,000 population.

‘EMERGENCY STOP’

“We will be able to pull an emergency brake in territories where the virus is too present,” Macron said.

The incidence rate in Paris and its surrounding areas averaged 459 per 100,000 people in the seven days to April 25 and is declining, data shows. Ile de France is home to nearly a fifth of the French population and represents 30% of economic activity.

About 22% of all French citizens have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to a Reuters tracker.

Speeding up deployment in France, Europe and developing countries is key to tackling the virus, Macron said.

Opening the vaccine to more people in France, Macron said COVID vaccines will be made available to all obese adults from May 1.

Macron said France could use a digital or paper ‘health pass’ to help curb the spread of the virus at events with large crowds such as sports stadiums or festivals. But he said it wouldn’t be fair to use them in everyday places like restaurants or movie theaters.

“A health pass will never be a right of access which differentiates the French,” said the president. “As far as public freedoms are concerned, Parliament will debate the issue.”

France’s main COVID-19 indicators all showed signs of improvement on Wednesday, with the seven-day moving average of daily new infections falling to 27,366 from 38,000 when the lockdown began.

France has recorded 5.57 million cases of COVID-19 and 103,947 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



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