Lockdown Lowdown In France: What To Expect From May 11

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe. Photo: Jacques Paquier

UPDATE:  NO MORE ATTESTATIONS. Attestations to leave home will no longer be necessary from May 11. But "travel more than 100 km from home" will be prohibited, except for "compelling reasons, family or professional."

French prime minister Edouard Philippe has been addressing 75 of the 577 MPs in the National Assembly this afternoon to unveil post-lockdown measures from May 11. These measures will be voted on tonight.

Deconfinement in France will take place in progressive stages, the first starting May 11, followed three weeks later by phase on June 2.

“Protect, Test, Isolate” is the mantra of the government. “It is the reasonability of each French person to make sure the virus does not spread,” said the prime minister.

A few takeaways from his speech: geography will play a role in deconfinement as the circulation of the coronavirus is “different in different territories.” Therefore, mayors and prefects will be able to tailor national strategies for their own local implementation.

From this Thursday, and every Thursday, the health ministry will be publishing a Covid-19 breakdown by department to identify where lockdown needs to remain strict due to hospital/ICU capacity or where testing stations are not ready. May 7 will determine the red versus green categories, which will influence lockdown easing by department.

All businesses, except restaurants and cafés, will be able to open from May 11, however there will be strict health rules in place, including physical distancing and wearing masks. At the end of May, a decision will be made regarding the reopening of cafés and restaurants.

Working from home should be maintained as much as possible. For employees who cannot telecommute after May 11, staggered hours will be recommended. The partial unemployment scheme is itself extended until June 1.

Masks will be available for all French citizens from May 11, but they will not be compulsorily in outdoor spaces, and the government expects to test 700,000 people per week from this date.

Kindergarten and elementary schools will gradually reopen from May 11 as the president believes it’s “imperative for kids to go back to school.” From May 18, in areas where the virus level is low, middle schools, specifically grades 5 and 6, can resume and at the end of May, the government will decide whether to open high schools across the country.

Regardless, there will be no more than 15 students per class, and social distancing and hygiene (hand washing and sanitizer, for example) must be respected, plus everyone will wear a mask when they can’t social distance. The exception to the mask rule will be for kindergarten students.

“Meetings in public or private places will be limited to 10 people,” Philippe said, adding 2019-2020 major sports championships, including the Ligue 1 football, “will not be resume.” Cinemas and cultural centers will remain closed.

City halls will be encouraged to recommend the postponement of weddings. Religious ceremonies remain prohibited until June 2 but cemeteries may reopen from May 11.

Beaches will remain prohibited until June 1. Regarding the summer holidays, "it is too early" to speak more specifically, said the Prime Minister.The government anticipates 1,000 to 3,000 new coronavirus cases daily from the May 11 and France is very far from herd immunity as less than 6% of the country has been infected.

Prime minister Edouard Philippe did not mince his words: should the infection numbers start to rise critically, he will not hesitate to impose another lockdown.

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