France and Belgium joining the list of european countries easing measures on Monday, amid fears of a second coronavirus wave.
Hair salons, clothes shops, florists and bookshops opened again in France on Monday while many primary schools reopened for teachers and will welcome back small numbers of pupils on Tuesday, depending on space.
“We are entering a new world, one that we'll have to learn to juggle the economy, work and the circulation of the virus. For this challenge to succeed it depends on each and every one of us,” said the country's economy minister Bruno Lemaire.
Le Maire said business leaders, politicians and each citizen had a role to play to get the country back on track after eight weeks of lockdown that began on March 17th.
France was returning to “working condition” on Monday said Le Maire, but warned that strict and safe sanitary conditions must be adhered too.
The end of lockdown comes as France recorded its lowest daily death toll for coronavirus in several weeks with just 70 additional deaths on Sunday.
The health ministry said “our efforts during the lockdown worked and saved thousands of lives.”
“They need to succeed so that this new phase succeeds,” it added, warning that the epidemic is still “active and evolving”.
To end the lockdown the government has divided France into green and red areas for Monday's easing of the lockdown, with Paris and three other regions classified as red seeing a more limited relaxation.
Traffic on the péripherique ring road around Paris on Monday May 11th. AFP
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The main differences for the French this week will be schools reopening and people no longer having to write or download certificates to show police to justify trips outside.
However such certificates will still be needed for trips of over 100 kilometres (60 miles) from home. Bars, restaurants, theatres and cinemas remain closed until at least June.
More rigorous measures are still being kept in Paris due to the active circulation of the virus, with parks and large shopping centres to remain closed.
In a special measure for the French capital to ensure public transport is not overcrowded, commuters will have to carry a certificate from their employer if they travel during peak hours in the morning and evening.
Wearing masks is to be obligatory on public transport and state railway operator SNCF is readying for passengers to return to its stations with a myriad of circles and arrows being placed on the ground of concourses to ensure people observe social distancing.
France's transport minister on Monday said only around 5 percent of passengers were not wearing masks on public transport.
“That shows the advice has been respected,” said Jean-Baptiste Djebbari.