France lifts internal travel restrictions

Paris, May 3 (EFE).- France on Monday began the first stage of dismantling its lockdown restrictions, which authorities aim to lift almost completely by the end of June.

Residents are no longer bound by travel restrictions preventing them from journeying more than 10 kilometers from their homes save for essential trips.

From the early hours of the morning, Paris’ Montparnasse train station was abrim with passengers looking to take their first journey in weeks.

“Right now I’m going to a friend’s house in the south,” Damien, 22, told Efe. “We waited for the end of lockdown to travel, because it wasn’t very civil to do so during.”

The next stage of the de-escalation is due to begin on 19 May with the reopening of museums, cinemas and theaters as well as outdoor eating areas for restaurants and cafes. The current curfew, which comes into effect at 7pm, will be pushed back by two hours.

“With the curfew in place it’s all the same, you go from the house to work then from work to the house,” Alex, 34, told Efe, adding that he was excited for this measure, in place since October, to be lifted “to have a bit of fun and see friends.”

Also on Monday, after two weeks of distance learning and another two weeks of vacation, some 5.6 million secondary school students will be allowed to return to the classroom, although in-person classes will continue to be alternated to keep classroom numbers at 50%.

Authorities plan to distribute some 64 million tests between now and June so that students can check their Covid-19 status once a week.

“France can be proud of being one of the country’s that has been able to keep its schooling mostly open and that’s how we want to stay,” prime minister Jean Castex said during a visit to a high school in the country’s northeast on Monday.

According to Unesco, between March 2020 and 2021, French students missed out on 10 weeks of class in total, compared to 35 in Italy, 28 in Germany and 15 in Spain.

French authorities hope to return to a state of semi-normality by 30 June, when the curfew will no longer be in place and only nightclubs will remain closed.

Health authorities are detecting some 24,500 Covid-19 cases on average per day in France. EFE


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