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“We are reaching the goal,” French Prime Minister Jean Castex laid out the rules Monday for the next steps toward the ending of France’s third nationwide Covid-19 lockdown, with the reopening of restaurant and café terraces, cultural venues and non-essential shops set for May 19.
“I say it in the clearest way possible: We are finally in the process of emerging from this health crisis on a long-term basis,” Castex said in an interview with the Le Parisien newspaper on Monday. “This exit will take place in a gradual, careful and guided way. But the trend is clear, we are reaching the goal and that’s good news.”
France is sticking to the schedule for easing its lockdown that President Emmanuel Macron announced on April 29. The government first lifted a 10km limit on movement from home on May 3. The second step in a planned return to normalcy will be the reopening of restaurant, bar and café terraces, cultural venues and non-essential shops, but with rules.
The finance ministry has announced it will continue to aid companies in sectors hit hardest during the pandemic, but at a reduced level between June and August.
• The nightly curfew will roll back from 7pm to 9pm
France’s nationwide curfew, which the government has adjusted several times since October, will roll back from 7pm to 9 pm on May 19, and continue ending each morning at 6am. The new hours are the same as those in place last autumn, before France’s second lockdown began on October 29.
France wants to further roll back the soon-to-be 9pm start to 11pm on June 9, and lift the curfew entirely on June 30.
• Restaurant, bar and café terraces to reopen at 50 percent capacity
The reopening of restaurant, bar and café terraces, which Health Minister Olivier Véran confirmed Monday, will be at half of their total capacity from May 19.
“There will be a limit of 50 percent capacity,” Castex said to Le Parisien. The prime minister also said that patrons must be seated, with no more than six at a table.
“I imagine that there could be some misbehaviour, but I trust my fellow citizens to respect the rules,” Castex said. “There will be police checks.”
Indoor service will resume at half-capacity on June 9, he said.
• Capacity limits for cultural venues and spectator sports
“Every third seat in a cinema or at a show may be filled, with a limit of 800 people per room,” Castex said. Museums may also reopen on May 19, with the rule that each visitor be accorded 8 square metres of space.
Outdoor and indoor facilities for spectator sports may also reopen from next week, with limits of 800 people indoors and 1,000 outdoors.
• Shops, covered markets and open-air markets may open with limits
France’s shops have been subject to different rules in recent months, depending on their size and location. They “will all reopen, including the large shopping centres” on May 19, Castex said, according to the same rule as museums: 8 square metres per customer.
Covered markets will also need to provide 8 square metres of space for each shopper, while open-air markets must provide 4 square metres.
Limits on the number of customers inside shops will be lifted on June 30, the PM said.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)