France to ease lockdown within days

Four weeks after France entered its second lockdown, the country will begin its gradual release, with stores reopening just in time for the busy Christmas period.
French President Emmanuel Macron has given the French public an early Christmas present in the form of a three-stage let-up to the current restrictions in place, beginning this weekend, 28th November. This is due mainly to a notable drop in daily Covid-19 cases around the country.
“The peak of the second wave of the epidemic has passed,” Macron said in his televised speech on Tuesday night. “The spirit of civic responsibility that you showed was effective and we learned to better treat patients… But I call upon your sense of responsibility. This will certainly not be a Christmas like the others.”
The first stage will include the reopening of non-essential shops and businesses, such as clothing retailers and hairdressers. However, they must comply with strict social distancing rules and other health measures already in place. Additionally, they will need to close up by 9pm every night.
Churches and certain cultural sites like museums will be able to accept visitors again starting on Tuesday 1stDecember, though there will be 30 person maximum.
People will also be allowed to exercise within a 20 kilometre radius of their homes for up to three hours, as opposed to the current rule of one kilometre for one hour.
On 15th December, if infections drop to 5,000 or below per day and the daily number of new ICU cases stays between 2,500 and 3,000, lockdown will be officially lifted, making travel for the holidays possible. This date also marks the possibility of reopening cinemas, theatres and museums.
But this freedom comes with strings. There will be a nationwide curfew from 9pm to 7am, with the exceptions of 24th and 31st December, and people gathering at private get togethers are expected to adhere to distancing rules.
The next stage won’t occur until after the holidays. If all goes in the right direction, restaurants will be able to reopen from 20th January. This date does not currently include cafes and bars, and there is no word as yet as when this may happen.
With regard to the opening of ski resorts, Macron only briefly touched upon this, saying that he was coordinating with other European countries.
“We have to do everything in our power to avoid a third wave and a third lockdown,” the French president said. “You must play a central role in this. I appeal to the responsibility and the discipline of each and every one of you.”
Photo: Avenue Jean Medecin in Nice, by Monaco Life, all rights reserved