Emmanuel Macron to chart France's path out of Covid-19 lockdown

French president promises a return to country's way of life with night-time curfew eased

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France has started to chart a path out of lockdown with President Emmanuel Macron to begin relaxing the nightly curfew from next month.

Regional newspapers reported the 7pm curfew would be relaxed and hospitality venues would reopen from May 19.

Mr Macron, who is under pressure from business groups and a coronavirus-weary public to get the economy up and running, told French media easing lockdown would be a multi-stage plan to gradually unwind the country's month-long stay-at-home order.

He said it was time to start "resuming our French-style way of life", citing the need for "conviviality", culture and sport.

But he said people needed to remain "careful and responsible".

Prime Minister Jean Castex said Mr Macron would reveal details of the plan in a televised address on Friday.

The plan envisages the curfew being pushed back to 9pm from May 19, before being scrapped completely on June 30.

Museums, cinemas and theatres can reopen on May 19.

Foreign tourists with a "health pass" will be allowed to visit France from June 9, according to the timetable published by Ouest France and other newspapers.

The Elysee declined to comment ahead of the publication of Mr Macron's full interview with regional papers on Thursday.

The timetable is provisional and could be delayed on a region-by-region basis in areas where intensive care units are close to saturation or the Covid-19 incidence rate exceeds 400 cases per 100,000 people, Paris daily newspaper Le Parisien reported.

Police officers make a routine check in restaurants to verify compliance with COVID-19 sanitary measures in Vincennes, near Paris, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in France, April 29, 2021. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

France’s main Covid-19 indicators are all showing signs of improvement, with a total of 27,000 new cases per day on average over the past week compared with about 40,000 when lockdown began last month.

A further 324 deaths were reported in the past 24 hours, bringing the country's Covid-19 death toll to 103,947.

Some restrictions have already been relaxed in recent days. Primary schools reopened on Monday after a three-week shutdown, with secondary schools to follow next week, when restrictions on travel around the country will also be lifted.

The French public were particularly anxious to know when cafes and museums, closed since October 30, would reopen.

In March, French doctors warned that they could be forced to turn patients away from hospitals as they hit saturation point with rising admissions.

Mr Macron reluctantly agreed to implement France’s third Covid-19 lockdown after acknowledging the seriousness of the situation.

However, he attracted strong criticism from health experts for ordering the shutdown too late.

Catherine Hill, an epidemiologist at a Paris clinic, warned that a large-scale lifting of restrictions would be "absolutely unwise", noting that at 5,879, the number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care remained higher than at the peak of France's second wave in November.

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