France to open bars and beaches in second phase of easing lockdown
By Michel Rose and Sudip Kar-Gupta PARIS (Reuters) - France will allow restaurants, bars and cafes to reopen from June 2, though with more restrictions in Paris than elsewhere, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Thursday as he announced the next phase in easing the country's coronavirus lockdown.
By Michel Rose and Sudip Kar-Gupta
PARIS (Reuters) - France will allow restaurants, bars and cafes to reopen from June 2, though with more restrictions in Paris than elsewhere, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Thursday as he announced the next phase in easing the country's coronavirus lockdown.
The government is also lifting a nationwide 100 km (60-mile) travel restriction and will reopen beaches and parks from next week. Philippe said he was in favour of removing border restrictions within Europe's Schengen area without quarantine rules from June 15.
"Freedom will become the rule, bans the exception," Philippe said in a televised address.
The spread of the virus is slowing quicker than hoped for and Paris is no longer deemed a "red zone" coronavirus hot-spot, the prime minister said. But danger still lurked and there was no room for complacency, he said.
The greater Paris region is now an "orange" zone, meaning it not as virus-free as almost all other regions designated "green", and the easing of restrictions will be more cautious, Philippe said.
More than 28,500 people have died of COVID-19 in France. On Wednesday the death toll rose by less than 100 for the seventh day running.
Across the country, restaurants, cafes and bars will have to ensure a minimum one-metre (three-foot) gap between tables and all staff must wear face masks. In "orange" zones like the greater Paris region they will only be permitted to open outdoor seating areas.
A ban on gatherings in public places of more than 10 people remains in place for now, and major sporting events will also be suspended until at least June 21, Philippe added.
Cinemas will be allowed to open from June 22 unless the spread of the virus quickens once again.
France and its European neighbours have been progressively easing unprecedented restrictions on public life in the past month, desperate to revive battered economies but mindful of unleashing a second wave of infections.
Health Minister Olivier Veran said the virus' reproduction rate, known as the "R" rate, is below 1 across almost the whole country, meaning that on average each infected person is infecting less than one person and so the epidemic is regressing.
A contact-tracing app, allowing health authorities to identify people who have been exposed to a COVID-19 carrier, will go live on June 2, Philippe said. The app's development led to a standoff with Apple.
(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta, Michel Rose, Matthieu Protard, Marine Pennetier Geert De Clercq; Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Jon Boyle, William Maclean and Frances Kerry)
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