By Marta Garde
Paris, May 30 (efe-epa).- Parisian parks reopened to the public on Saturday for the first time since the coronavirus lockdown was first enforced in mid-March, a move that puts an end to a tug-of-war between Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo and the government.
Scenes of a forgotten normality returned to the French capital’s green spaces — children on bikes and scooters, families sat on the grass, couples catching some sunshine, older people out for a stroll and streams of runners reanimated the area.
The reopening of parks and gardens in France was made official on Thursday by Prime Minister Édouard Philippe but no region had fought for them to reopen more than Paris.
On 11 May, the beginning of the end of the lockdown in France, Hidalgo called for permission to reopen parks in the capital, arguing residents needed more space to be outside.
From that moment, the Paris mayor used social media to heap the pressure on the government.
“At last! Common sense has won,” she said Thursday after Philippe outlined the details of the next stage of the easing of the lockdown, which officially comes into effect on 2 June but was modified to include the weekend.
Until then the government had refused to budge on the issue with regards to Paris, given the city remained in one of France’s coronavirus “red zones,” but the alert has since been lowered to orange.
Paris residents wasted no time and had filled the city’s parks and gardens by the morning.
Armand, a 37-year-old Parisan and father of two young children, was enjoying the newly-reopened Parc des Buttes Chaumont.
“We were eager to come,” he told Efe. “It seemed paradoxical that the schools were open but the parks were closed. We needed some sort of logic and it looks like it’s finally being achieved.”
Wearing a mask is not obligatory in France, but it is recommended.
Residents are allowed to enjoy exercise individually, sit on the grass, have picnic, but they must observe social distancing protocol in a bid to contain Covid-19, which has infected more than 150,000 in the country and killed 28,700.
Michel, 70, decided to wear a mask.
“I’m diabetic and I want to protect myself,” he said.
He arrived early at the park, before the good weather attracted possible crowds.