French President Emmanuel Macron has announced the lifting of more restrictions across France as the country is emerging from a coronavirus lockdown. The government will allow cafes and restaurants to reopen across the country, while travel to other European countries will also be permitted.

Macron first imposed a strict lockdown on March 17 which remained in place until May 11, when the country began to cautiously ease restrictions, reports the BBC.

Warns of The Virus' Return

In a televised address on Sunday the fourth since the pandemic hit the country, Macron said that with the exception of Mayotte and French Guiana, the entire map of France will go green, including Ile-de-France, the great Paris region. Both territories still have high numbers of cases, which are threatening to overwhelm their hospital systems. He said France had won its "first victory" but he warned the virus could return.

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a press conference after the European Union's Informal Summit in Salzburg, Austria, Sept. 20, 2018. (Xinhua/Ye Pingfan/IANS)
French President Emmanuel Macron IANS

"As soon as tomorrow, we will be able to turn the page on this first chapter across all our territory. "This means a stronger resumption of work and the reopening of restaurants and bars," the President said.

Restaurants, hotels and cafés were allowed to reopen in many parts of France earlier this month - provided distancing rules were observed. Macron confirmed that from Monday, this would also happen in the Paris region, which recorded the highest number of cases in the country.

"A Summer Unlike Any Other"

"In France and overseas, nurseries, schools, colleges will prepare to welcome, from June 22, all students, in a compulsory manner and according to normal attendance rules," Macron noted. The second round of the municipal elections will take place on June 28 "in a very supervised manner", he added.

But, he added, mass gatherings would need to remain "tightly controlled" because they were "the main occasions for spreading the virus". Regarding the easing of the restrictions, the BBC quoted the President as saying that "this does not mean that the virus has gone and that we can completely drop our guard".

"The summer of 2020 will be a summer unlike any other and we will need to watch the evolution of the epidemic to be prepared in case it comes back with renewed strength." As of Monday, the total number of COVID-19 cases in France stood at 194,153, with 29,410 deaths.

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