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LIVING IN FRANCE

What to expect as French PM set to announce easing of lockdown

French Prime Minister Jean Castex and other ministers will hold a press conference on Thursday to present more details on the time table for relaxing Covid-19 restrictions and reopening closed sectors in France.

What to expect as French PM set to announce easing of lockdown
French Prime Minister Jean Castex will be holding a press conference on Thursday evening. Photo: Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP

The prime minister was set to be accompanied by Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, Health Minister Olivier Véran and Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer for a live broadcast at 6pm, which we will follow HERE.

President Emmanuel Macron was intending to stick to a goal of allowing restaurants to serve patrons outdoors from mid-May, while reopening cinemas, theatres and museums with reduced capacity, a government source told AFP.

While the president was expected to announce the full plan himself in another live speech to the nation before the end of April, the government ministers were going to present some details, notably on the return to school that begin next week.

France also plans to lift restrictions on trips of more than 10km from May 3rd, the government spokesman confirmed on Wednesday, amid reports that the 7pm curfew will also be relaxed on this date.

Non-essential shops will also reopen in mid-May, it is reported, while sources said that the 7pm curfew would be relaxed – although not necessarily scrapped altogether – from May 3rd.

France has been on ‘partial lockdown’ since April 3rd to contain a third wave of coronavirus infections that have again pushed hospitals to the brink.

Non-essentials shops were closed and travel was limit to within 10km of home, with essential reasons and an attestation permission form required for longer trips.

Schools also closed for three weeks – two weeks of which were rescheduled Easter holidays – with primary schools returning as planned on April 26th and secondary and high schools having a second week of distance learning before returning ti in-person classes on May 3rd.

The staggered plan to exit a four-week clampdown, sketched out by Macron in his televised address last month, “remains the working basis,” government spokesman Gabriel Attal said during a press conference on Wednesday after a meeting of the Defence Council, which decides on health restrictions.

Attal confirmed that attestations justifying journeys of more than 10km would no longer be necessary from May 2nd.

Case numbers appear to have peaked in recent days and reached a plateau, although pressure on hospitals remains high.

The prospect of reopening reflects the government’s conviction that the number of daily Covid cases will fall to around 20,000 within a month, the source said.

Macron is also betting that France will meet its target of vaccinating 20 million people with at least one dose by mid-May, up from 13 million currently.

On Tuesday, health authorities reported 43,098 cases over the previous 24 hours, and 375 deaths, bringing the country’s total to 101,597.

“It appears that we could be at the peak, or close to it,” Attal said, while cautioning that progress in reducing pressure on hospitals “remains insufficient.”

Macron drew fire from political opponents as well as health experts early this year when he decided against a new lockdown, bucking a European trend.

He defended the move by saying France and its economy had gained “precious weeks of liberty,” but surging cases forced his hand in April, though he stopped short of ordering people to stay home or avoid socialising completely.

Member comments

    1. What’s the alternative? Keep people inside forever? Hopefully the vaccines will have an effect very soon. What I don’t understand is how the U.S., which had no real lockdown, was able to get its numbers to recede so much after they had vaccinated about the same percentage as France. Yes, cases are going up again in certain places where they opened everything 100 percent way too soon, but they are staying way down in other places that have been opening progressively for awhile now. Unless they are somehow concealing actual numbers in certain states.

  1. Hopefully the seasonal pattern of 2020 will repeat itself, and by September enough people will be vaccinated to prevent further confinements.

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LIVING IN FRANCE

Life in France: 5 plants that (allegedly) repel mosquitoes

Summer in France brings lots of good stuff and some deeply annoying things, like mosquitoes. But did you know that there are plants that you can add to your garden or balcony that will repel these deeply unwelcome visitors?

Life in France: 5 plants that (allegedly) repel mosquitoes

If you’re one of these people who are attractive to mosquitoes then you’ll know the misery of spending the summer covered in itchy red lumps – and the bad news is that the rising global temperatures mean that ‘mosquito season’ in France now lasts longer.

It’s a common problem and in the summer French florists and garden centres often sell ‘anti-moustique‘ plants.

We’re not promising a 100 percent repellent rate, but these are some plants that apparently help.

In good news, most of them are small enough so that you can grow them on your balcony or in a window box if you don’t have a garden.  

Mint (menthe)

A common herb that many people might already have in their gardens, but mosquitoes apparently hate the lovely, fresh scent of mint.

And even if it fails to ward off the bugs, at least you can use the leaves to garnish food or make a nice big jug of Pimms (which might distract you from your horrible, itchy bites).

READ MORE: France’s most toxic plants and berries to watch out for

Marigolds (Rose d’inde, sometimes known as Souci)

These are a popular choice to add a touch of colour to a window box or balcony, as well as to a garden, and have the added benefit of warding off mosquitoes.

Gardeners like them because can boost the growth of other plants when planted together.

Rosemary (romarain)

Another aromatic herb that humans love and mosquitoes apparently hate.

If you’re planting it in the garden use a container because it has a tendency to spread and take over your garden. If you don’t want to grown it, or don’t have the space, you can always add a couple of sprigs to your grill when barbecuing to help keep the mosquitoes away as you dine outdoors.

Lemongrass (citronelle)

You’ll certainly be aware of citronella scent from various mosquito-repelling products including oils and candles, but you can also grow it in the your garden.

It grows quite big so might not be suitable for small gardens or window boxes.

Even if it doesn’t succeed in keeping insets away, you can use it in cooking to add a lemony flavour.

Wormwood (absinthe)

The final one on the list is usually said to be the most effective, but should be used with caution as it is toxic if eaten.

You can grow it in your garden or in a window box, but take great care that it doesn’t end up with your edible herbs as it will make you sick – if you have a garden when children or animals are present then it’s probably best to avoid this one altogether, but on the plus side its pungent scent will keep mosquitoes away.

As the French name suggests, wormwood is one of the main ingredients in the drink Absinthe and is what gives it the distinctive green colour.

Legend has it that wormwood is the active ingredient that makes people hallucinate after drinking absinthe, but in fact the drink is not hallucinogenic and never was. It is extremely strong though, which might explain some of those ‘visions’!

Other tips

Mosquitoes like to hang out and to breed in water or long grass, so you can help keep them away by eliminating their favourite spots. For example;

  • Keep lawns trimmed
  • Eliminate sources of stagnant water eg old plant pots that collect rainwater
  • Keep your gutters clear
  • If you have a pond consider installing a small fountain or pump, as mosquitoes usually won’t lay eggs in moving water
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