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‘France turns green’: Macron announces further easing of coronavirus restrictions

French president Emmanuel Macron announced a further reopening of France from Monday in his fourth televised speech to the country since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

'France turns green': Macron announces further easing of coronavirus restrictions
Photo: AFP

“The fight against the epidemic is not finished but I am happy about this first victory against the virus,” Macron said, before declaring that, starting Monday, “all of France will turn green.”

That meant that the greater Paris region Île-de-France would go from orange to green on the government's coronavirus map earlier than expected, and that all bars and restaurants would be able to fully reopen again.

France's overseas territories Mayotte and French Guyana would be exempt and stay orange for the time being.

President Macron's speech came as France approached the end of “phase two” of lifting the strict, nationwide lockdown.

Phase 3 was set to begin on June 22nd, but as expected the president announced a further loosening up of restrictions that would enter into effect earlier than planned.

READ ALSO These are the 11 lockdown rules you still need to follow in France

“Tomorrow, we’ll be able to turn the page on the first act of this epidemic,” he said.

“We will be able to find the real France again.”

After announcing the good news, he cautioned that “this does not mean that the virus has disappeared.”

“We will have to live with the virus for a long time yet,” he said.

Restaurants and bars

As of Monday, all bars and restaurants can reopen again, including in Paris where only terraces have been able to get back in business.

Schools

All schools will reopen from June 22nd, and attending school will be mandatory for all pupils in crèches, écoles (elementary and primary school) and collèges (secondary school).

International travel

Macron announced that, as of Monday, all travel into European countries would again be allowed. That means everyone will be able to move freely inside Europe without having to show a valid international travel certificate.

Travel outside of the EU will be made possible again from July 1st.

Local elections

France will hold the second round of its local elections on June 28th.

Ehpad (nursery homes)

All of the country's nursing homes for elderly will open to visits again from Monday.
 
The measure will be met with great relief by both residents, family and staff, after a series of media reports showing how elderly in Ehpads have suffered from loneliness during the lockdown.
 

Economy

Pointing to the government's economic help measures during the lockdown, Macron said they were proof of its “total mobilisation” and dedication in supporting the country's businesses, “whatever it cost.”

“Partial unemployment, business loans, support for traders, the self-employed, support for the most precarious,” he said.

“Everything has been done by the government to save our jobs and to help everyone.”

READ ALSO: Coronavirus in France: Is the worst behind us? 

Now, the president said, France was entering a new chapter where it needed to rebuild its economy.

“Our first priority is to reconstruct an economy that is strong, green and just,” Macron said, promising a “relaunch” of the economy founded on “solidarity.”

“We have decided on a massive plan for the hardest hit: the automobile industry, aeronautics, tourism, culture, catering, hotels ”, Macron said.

“In total, we have mobilised nearly €500 billion for our economy, for workers, for entrepreneurs, but also for the most precarious.”

Racism

The president's address to the nation came at a tense moment, as thousands of people in French cities had taken to the streets in the latest protest against police violence and alleged racism on Saturday, in an echo of the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States.

As expected, Macron tried to strike a balance between showing sympathy for the protesters' demands and denouncing racism, while avoiding stirring further ire among the police – who have already held their own demonstrations.

“Our police (..) deserve to be recognised by the nation,” he said, pointing to the “dangers” that police officers faced daily. 

Referring to international calls for tearing down statutes of colonial personalities, he said:

“The Republic will not delete any name, any trace of its history.”

New speech in July

Macron will speak to the French again in July.

“We have before us historic challenges,” he said.

“Let's never forget our strengths, our history, our youth, our sense of work and commitment, our desire for justice, our capacity to create to live and change the world, our benevolence.”

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LIVING IN FRANCE

Property taxes, food and tunnels: 6 essential articles on life in France

From tax hikes to the price of food, air conditioning and the unexpected things that lurk beneath the streets of Paris, here are 6 essential articles for life in France.

Property taxes, food and tunnels: 6 essential articles on life in France

As the inhabitants of Paris, one of Europe’s most densely populated cities, walk along the Champs-Elysées or Rue de Rivoli, they might be entirely unaware of the extensive underground world that exists below their feet.

Paris has a huge network of underground spaces that hide some very unexpected things (as well as the entirely prosaci Metro).

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From cheese and garlic to berets and sex, taxes and striking, France is heavily loaded with cultural stereotypes – and most of them are only partly accurate.

This is us, busting more myths.

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France warned that companies might have to reduce energy this winter as Russian continues to reduce its gas supplies to Europe.

The government has already begun work on an energy-saving plan, with more measures to come in September.

And it’s not the only country thinking along these lines – from limits to heating and air conditioning to turning off the lights and taking off ties, here’s how countries around Europe are cutting their energy usage.

Air-con, lights and ties: How countries around Europe hope to avoid blackouts this winter

Although householders in France are relatively fortunate when it comes to rising bills, there is one notable exception.

Towns and villages across France have been raising property tax rates for second-home owners – with many areas voting for the maximum 60 percent increase.

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As we’ve stumbled onto money matters, let’s consider the cost of living. France has many temptations to woo visitors and foreign residents: its scenery, history, the lifestyle, the food and the drink.

While some things here are more expensive than elsewhere – we’re looking at you, second-hand car dealers – and the taxes are notoriously high, what about the cost of groceries and wine? How do they compare? We do something that looks a lot like crunching the numbers…

How expensive is food and drink in France?

But, enough of all that seriousness. It’s silly season, after all. Prominent French scientist Etienne Klein has had to apologise for claiming this was the latest astonishing picture taken by the James Webb Space Telescope, when it was – in fact …

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Some people take things far too seriously.

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