The National Assemblée yesterday approved French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe’s much-anticipated plan for ‘déconfinement’ – a progressive return to normal for certain aspects of French life once the current Covid-19 lockdown ends on May 11, albeit including the wearing of masks on public transport, limited numbers for gatherings in public places and the end of the football season.
Six areas of French life – schools, shops, businesses, masks, test-isolation of the sick and gatherings – are affected, with the French public knowing that “we are going to have to live with the virus”, said Philippe. Restaurants, bars, cafés, theatres and cinemas will remain closed.
- Transport between regions will be limited to journeys of 100km. You will only need an attestation form if you are travelling further, and this is only if you have professional needs or an urgent family reason.
- Mask-wearing will be obligatory on all public transport (including taxis), where passenger numbers on every bus, train, tram or metro carriage will be limited and every other seat will need to remain empty.
- Getting children back to school is a priority although it will not be obligatory – it is up to parents to decide. Classes will be limited to a maximum of fifteen pupils, with primary and maternelle classes resuming gradually from May 11. Pupils will not have to wear masks. As for collèges, only those in only departments with a “very weak” virus presence can re-open and those pupils will have to wear masks. A decision on the re-opening of lycées will be announced at the end of May.
- Crèches can reopen with groups of up to ten children. No masks will be required for children aged under three.
- Gatherings of people will be limited to 10 people in both public and private spaces.
- Big events such as festivals and sports matches with gatherings of more than 5,000 people are forbidden until September 2020 – which means France’s professional football and rugby seasons are now officially finished.
- Small museums and médiathèques can reopen
Fabric masks will be available in supermarkets and other shops
In a separate announcement this morning, it was confirmed that washable fabric masks would be sold in supermarkets (grandes surfaces) from May 11, other small shops and tobacconists as well as pharmacies.
Distribution to pharmacies of these ‘non-sanitary’ masks has been in place since Monday but many buyers have complained of lack of availability or high prices.