President Emmanuel Macron is preparing to ease existing lockdown restrictions, imposed after France was hit by a third wave of coronavirus, by the start of May if, as health officials expect, cases begin falling.
France moved schools to remote learning, closed non-essential shops and prohibited travel beyond 10km from home without justification in March, as the nation faced a situation with more than 5,000 people battling Covid in intensive care.
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, government spokesperson Gabriel Attal described the recent drop in cases as the “first encouraging signs” but warned that it “is taking more time than last November to slow down due to the presence of variants.”
The comments from Macron’s spokesperson follow remarks on Tuesday by the Health Minister Olivier Veran who warned France that “we are still at a peak of the epidemic and we must continue our efforts.”
If the plan to remove restrictions moves forward, the government expects to reopen schools and lift the 10km rule by May 3 and restart outdoor service at restaurants, let non-essential shops open up and allow cinemas, museums and theaters to operate at reduced capacity in mid-May. There is currently no word on whether the curfew that’s in place will be lifted.
New cases have begun to fall in April, dropping from 265,444 in the first week to 233,275 in the second, as Covid restrictions have helped to curb the spike in infections. However, even with the reduction, the nation’s hospitals are still under pressure, requiring restrictions to remain in place until at least the end of the month.