France 'emerging' from Covid-19 crisis, says Prime Minister Jean Castex

Prime minister says restaurant and bar terraces could open nationally on May 19

French Prime Minister Jean Castex, wearing a protective face mask, attends the questions to the government session before a final vote on controversial climate change bill at the National Assembly in Paris, France, May 4, 2021. REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier
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French Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Monday that France was "emerging on a long-term basis" from the Covid-19 crisis as he gave new details about shop and restaurant openings.

"I say it in the clearest way possible: we are finally in the process of emerging on a long-term basis from this health crisis," Mr Castex told Le Parisien newspaper.

"Obviously this exit will take place in a progressive, careful and supported way. But the trend is clear. We are nearing the end and it's good news."

He said that restaurant and bar terraces would open nationally on May 19, but would be limited to half their normal capacity, while eating inside would be allowed from June 9, also with half capacity.

Shops will reopen on May 19, but with restrictions on the number of people they can admit based on their size. Limits are set to be lifted on June 30.

France is in a third lockdown, which is more limited than previous restrictions from March to April and October to November last year.

The number of new daily cases is averaging about 20,000 – half the level of a month ago – while the number of people in intensive care has fallen to below 5,000 from about 6,000 last month.

Some experts have warned that the country is reopening too quickly, at risk of another surge in infection, but the country's vaccination campaign has increased rapidly after a slow start in January.

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