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France to start easing lockdown rules in three steps

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PARIS (Reuters) – France will start easing coronavirus lockdown rules in the coming weeks, leading the three-step process to avoid another outbreak of the pandemic, the government said on Sunday.

On Tuesday, President Emmanuel Macron will deliver a speech to the nation on the viral situation and may announce a partial relaxation of restrictions in place since October 30.

“Emmanuel Macron will give perspectives over several weeks, in particular on how we are adjusting our strategy. The challenge is to adapt the lockdown rules as the health situation improves while avoiding a new outbreak of the epidemic” government spokesman Gabriel Attal told Journal Du Dimanche.

“There will be three stages to (lockdown) relax given the health situation and the risks associated with certain companies: a first stage around December 1, then before the end of year vacation, then from January 2021” , Attal added. .

Macron said France’s second national lockdown, which began on October 30, would last at least four weeks. The sidewalks include the closure of non-essential shops, restaurants and bars.

But with recent data showing France is on track to curb the surge in coronavirus infections, the government is under pressure from stores and businesses to ease restrictions in time for the Christmas shopping season, when many retailers achieve most of their annual turnover.

“We were committed to allowing them (the traders) to reopen around December 1 if the health situation improves, which appears to be the case,” Attal said.

Bars and restaurants “will continue to be restricted, however,” he added.

On Thursday, Health Minister Olivier Veran said France would win its battle against the coronavirus but it was a fight that will take time, warning that the lockdown was not yet over.

The number of new coronavirus infections in France rose by 17,881 on Saturday, down from the 22,882 reported on Friday, while the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 fell for the fifth day in a row and was down to 31,365.

(Report by Dominique Vidalon, edited by William Maclean)

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