France will reopen for business on Monday after President Emmanuel Macron announced a ‘first victory’ against coronavirus.
In an upbeat live TV address on Sunday night, the head of state said virtually all lockdown restrictions for bars, restaurants and cafes would end at the start of this coming week.
Schools, colleges and nurseries will then be back with all their pupils in a week’s time.
It comes as the country’s death toll for Monday to Saturday fell to 243, down from 353 the previous week.
In an upbeat live TV address on Sunday night, Emmanuel Macron, pictured, said virtually all lockdown restrictions for bars, restaurants and cafes would end at the start of this coming week
Only two overseas territories will have to continue to adhere to strict lockdown measures imposed back in March to fight Covid-19.
‘From tomorrow, we will be able to turn the page on the first act, in a way, of the crisis we just went through,’ said Mr Macron.
‘As of tomorrow, all French territory – with the exception of Mayotte and Guyana where the virus is still actively circulating – all the territory will therefore pass into what is now agreed to be called the green zone.’
This will include the full reopening of cafes and restaurants in the Paris area, said Mr Macron.
While social distancing will be expected, along with masks on public transport, Mr Macron said: ‘From tomorrow, it will again be possible to travel between European countries.
‘And from July 1, we will be able to go to states outside Europe where the epidemic has been brought under control.’
An employee sews face protective masks in Chanteclair Hosiery, a French knitwear clothing manufacturer in Saint Pouange, east of Paris. Masks will still be mandatory on public transport, despite the easing of other restrictions
A couple walks on the boardwalk along the beach huts on a pebble beach yesterday, after France reopened its beaches to the public
Referring to the education system, Mr Macron said: ‘Crèches, schools and colleges will open in France from 22 June, on a compulsory basis and according to the rules of normal attendance.
‘We must continue to avoid gatherings as much as possible because we know that they are the main opportunities for the spread of the virus – they will therefore remain closely supervised.’
Even the second round of municipal elections will take place on June 28, said Mr Macron.
One month after France ended its strict eight-week lockdown, there has been no rise in coronavirus cases as life returns towards normality.
Some 29,319 people have died of Covid-19 in France in hospitals and care homes since the pandemic began, but only 243 have come in the last week.
Of this total, more than a third of deaths occurred in care homes, but the government has stopped updating the figures because of the difficulty of accurately establishing a cause of death.
Almost 72,000 people diagnosed with Covid-19 have recovered and been discharged from hospital.
The President’s address on Sunday evening was watched with intent by families across the nation
Mr Macron said: ‘So we will be able to rediscover the pleasure of being together, to get back to work fully but also to have fun, to cultivate ourselves.
‘We are going to rediscover part of our art of living, our taste for freedom. In short, we are going to find France whole again.
‘This does not mean that the virus is gone and that we can completely lower our guard.
‘The fight against the epidemic is not over, but I am happy with you to take this first victory against the virus.’
Referring to the date he first announced a coronavirus lockdown, Mr Macron said: ‘On March 16, we made the humanist choice to put health above the economy by asking you to stay at home.
‘You then displayed an admirable sense of responsibility. And thanks to the exceptional commitment of our caregivers and all the teams, all the patients who needed it were able to be taken care of in hospital or in clincs.
‘Thanks to all of you who have continued to work, despite the anguish, to provide essential services to the nation, we have been able to feed ourselves and continue to live.’