France Eases Restrictions after Eight Weeks

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On Monday, France started a three-week phase of relaxed restrictions where selected sectors were allowed to reopen following a strict eight-week lockdown.

The country has been split up into green zones and red zones. These zones have been established based on data of how many new infections emerged, the volume of intensive care units and screening measures in place. The green zones will be able to enter the relaxed phase, whereas stricter regulations will apply to the red zones.

Nurseries and primary schools could reopen on Monday, while les collèges for 11-14-year-olds can reopen on Monday, 18 May. Les Lycées for 15-18-year-olds and schools in red zones will not reopen in this phase. There is a limit on 15 children per class and older students are required to wear a mask.

The new phase will allow people to travel 100km from their homes without needing a travel permit. It was previously expected that they would need to state the reason for leaving home and download a time-stamped permit to have permission to leave.

Shops have been allowed to reopen, provided they have strict social distancing and sanitising measures in place. Public eating, the reopening of bars and visiting beaches are not allowed in this phase. Gyms, large museums, cinemas and theatres will remain closed. In green zones, parks, small museums, forests and libraries will be accessible.

The public transport system has reopened and only one person may occupy a two-seater. Only permitted people will be able to use public transport during rush hour, given that it is essential for work or for family. People who do not wear masks while travelling will be fined €135 (R2700). International flights for social reasons is not permitted.

Other European countries have also eased their restrictions

In The Netherlands hairdressers, nail bars, beauticians, masseuses and occupational therapists were allowed to reopen on Monday. From 1 June, bars and restaurants will be allowed to accommodate people. Public transport has resumed to its pre-lockdown schedules and all commuters are required to wear a mask.

As of this week, shops in Belgium have been allowed to open. Schools will reopen on 18 May and will have a maximum class size of 10. Cafés and restaurants will reopen on 8 June.

On Saturday 16 May the Bundesliga, one of Europe’s major football leagues, will resume matches in Germany without any spectators present.

The French government will make another announcement on 1 June on whether restrictions will be relaxed further.