PARIS – Parisians must show forms to use rush-hour public transport and still avoid parks, though they will be able to shop at Champs-Elysee boutiques again, under measures to start lifting France’s coronavirus lockdown from Monday.
Though France is one of the worst-affected nations with 25,809 deaths, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told a news conference that enough progress had been made in curbing COVID-19 and supporting hospitals to begin easing restrictions.
Some regions including the Paris area would, however, remain “red zones” with a more cautious end to the nearly two-month national shutdown.
“The country is cut in two, with the virus circulating more quickly in some regions, notably in the Paris region, which is very densely populated,” Philippe said.
“In the Paris region, the infection rate is falling slowly, but it remains very high, higher than we expected. That is why in these territories we will need to be extra vigilant.”
Administrative regions around Calais, Strasbourg and Dijon will also remain “red zones”, where some restrictions will stay – such as keeping parks, gardens and secondary schools shut.
In Paris, commuters will need permissions from their employers to use the metro or buses at peak hours.
However, more than half of shops on the famed Champs-Elysees avenue, linking the Arc de Triomphe to the Paris Obelisk, can reopen, the avenue’s business committee said.
In other parts of France, cafes and restaurants may open from early June if the infection rate remains low.
Next week, about 1 million children and 130,000 teachers will return to school, Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said.
Beaches, water sports centres and lakes will remain closed for now but regional prefectures can allow their opening on request by the local mayor, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said.
The elderly and vulnerable were advised to continue observing the same distancing as during the lockdown in coming months, though the prime minister said that would not be compulsory and would rely on common sense.
“The distinction between green and red might tend to widen from June,” Philippe said. “Whether in a red or green area, we can’t get smart with the virus.”