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23 Apr, 2020 15:08

Regions don’t decide, retailers open all at once: France to unveil nationwide plan to lift Covid-19 lockdown next week

Regions don’t decide, retailers open all at once: France to unveil nationwide plan to lift Covid-19 lockdown next week

Lifting the coronavirus lockdown in France will not be done region by region, and state representatives will be key in deciding the reopening on the ground, latest statements from Paris reveal ahead of next week’s final exit plan.

As the lockdown-weary French are looking forward to the May 11 date, the government is still making up its mind on how to make that first major step on the way “back to normal.”

On Thursday, President Emmanuel Macron met with local officials and mayors via a video link to discuss the government’s strategy to lift the lockdown. He revealed that it will “not be done in a regionalized manner.” However, he has also referred to the procedure as being “decentralized.”

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What it means, in effect, is that the local officials – prefects and mayors – will be making decisions about which restrictive measures go first, depending on the situation on the ground. A detailed plan on how to exit the lockdown will be presented on “around” Tuesday next week, Macron said.

Starting from May 11, France’s schools and businesses will be gradually reopened. However, the return to school will be on voluntary basis, the presidency said. While the government advised citizens to wear “non-professional” face masks, it promised this will not be compulsory.

Earlier in the day, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said all retail outlets would be allowed to reopen on May 11, but food venues would have to remain closed until further notice.

“We want all retailers to be able to open on May 11 in the same way, out of fairness,” Le Maire told France Info radio. “I would only set aside restaurants, bars and cafes.”

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France, which is among the worst coronavirus-hit nations, has been in strict lockdown mode since March 17. It has registered over 157,000 Covid-19 cases, including more than 21,000 deaths, according to the latest figures by Johns Hopkins University. Worldwide, the pandemic tally has now passed the 2.6 million mark, and more than 184,000 people have succumbed to the disease.

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