“Protect the French without immobilizing France to the point that it may collapse.” Prime Minister Édouard Philippe announced on Tuesday the government’s plan for a progressive and prudent exit from confinement, which will begin on May 11 and will be reviewed every three weeks. With no vaccine or treatment in sight, “we are going to have to learn to live with the Covid-19 and also learn to protect ourselves,” he told French deputies. But, with the roadmap already detailed, the Executive does not rule out backing down or proposing a “stricter” de-escalation if the French do not take seriously the threat of a second epidemic wave.
All shops will be able to reopen from May 11 except bars, restaurants and cafes, on which the Government will make the decision at the end of that month. The Gauls may return to the streets without having to carry an affidavit, but meetings of more than ten people will not be allowed, neither in public nor in private places. Nor may travel more than 100 kilometers from the place of residence except for “imperative family or professional reason”.
The Executive does not rule out backing down or proposing a “stricter” de-escalation if people do not take the threat seriously
Shops will be able to reopen except bars, restaurants and cafes, which will be decided in late May
The Gauls will be able to return to the streets without the need to show, as now, an affidavit
The strategy is based on the triptych, said Philippe, of “protect, test and isolate.” The Government has set itself the goal of carrying out 700,000 virological tests (PCR) a week. All people with symptoms should be practiced, as well as those who have been in contact with them. The scientific committee that advises the Executive foresees that from May 11th, 1,000 to 3,000 new cases will be detected daily. In each department, “brigades” will be created to identify the contacts and all positives must be isolated for fourteen days, either in their own home -in which case their entire family must also isolate themselves-, or in a place that will be placed at their provision, probably hotels requisitioned for such use.
The Government’s plan contemplates different speeds depending on the impact of the epidemic in each of the territories. The departments will be classified as ‘red’ or ‘green’ according to three factors: the circulation of the virus in that territory, the pressure to which their hospitals are subjected and their ability to carry out tests and detect contamination chains.
On May 7, the Executive will evaluate which areas are prepared for more advanced de-escalation (the green ones) and where it should be stricter (the red ones). The mayors and the prefects will be able to adapt the plan to the different realities of each department.
The use of masks will only be compulsory in public transport – also in taxis and VTCs, but the Government considers it “preferable” to use them in many situations, especially when social distancing is not possible. Philippe has promised that there will be masks for everyone on May 11, that reusable ones will be progressively available in all shops, and that La Poste, the postal service, will launch an e-commerce platform to sell them.
The Infant and Primary schools will be the first to open in a “very progressive” way. Teachers must wear a mask -not so the children of these courses, being too young-, and there can be no more than 15 students per class. Barrier gestures should be respected and schools should be provided with disinfecting gel. The return to school will be done on a “voluntary” basis, confirmed Philippe, and it will be the directors of the schools and local authorities who must find tailored solutions for each of the centers.
Secondary classes – where all students must wear a mask – will begin the following week (May 18), but only in those departments where the circulation of the virus is less, and until the end of May the Government will not decide when they can reopen the lyceums. The nurseries may also open on May 11, although with a maximum of 10 children per group.
Teleworking should be kept where possible “at least for the next three weeks”, and the Executive has asked companies to stagger entrances and exits to avoid crowds on public transport, where the influx should be limited.
“France is in one of those moments in which those who love and serve it must live up to it,” Philippe said on Tuesday, describing the difficulty of the process that begins in two weeks: “too much carefree and the epidemic will return; too much prudence, and it is the country as a whole that will sink ».
Concerts, no; libraries yes
Cinemas, large museums such as the Louvre or concert and party halls will be closed on May 11, since sporting or cultural events with more than 5,000 people will not be able to resume before September, Prime Minister Édouard Philippe announced on Tuesday.
Nor will they open the parks of the areas considered ‘red’, that is, where there is still a great circulation of the virus, nor the beaches, the latter at least until June 1. Yes, it will be possible to practice individual sports outdoors, but not collective indoor sports, although Philippe did not specify if that includes gyms.
On the other hand, the libraries, media libraries and small museums where the influx is easy to control and where social distancing must be maintained will be able to reopen the long-awaited May 11. Cemeteries, closed until now, will also welcome visitors and funerals may be held again, although limited to a maximum of 20 attendees. Religious ceremonies, however, should wait until June 2. Weddings, “except for emergencies,” should also wait.