PARIS — In a televised address to the nation on Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron declared “a first victory” over the coronavirus epidemic, announcing a return to normalcy from Monday across French regions, except for overseas territories.
“From tomorrow, we will be able to turn the page on the first act of the crisis we have just gone through,” Macron said. “The new stage which opens from tomorrow will accelerate the recovery.”
“So, we will be able to find again the pleasure of being together, to fully resume work, but also to have fun, to cultivate ourselves. We will rediscover our art of living, our pleasure of freedom,” he added.
ALMOST FULL EXIT FROM LOCKDOWN
The remaining restrictions would be lifted in Ile-de-France which have so far lagged behind the rest of the country’s easing programme. Bars, cafes and restaurants will be allowed to receive clients.
All nurseries, schools and colleges will reopen from June 22 when all students have to attend courses, the president announced.
From Monday, European travellers will be able to enter French territory without restriction, while those from countries outside the Schengen area will have to wait until July 1.
Visits to a nursing homes will be permitted and the second round of the municipal elections will take place on June 28. Meanwhile, large gatherings will remain “tightly controlled” despite improved epidemic indicators.
“We will have to live with (the virus) for a long time yet, respect the rules of physical distance…and follow the evolution of the epidemic to be prepared if it strongly resurges,” the president warned.
“The fight against the epidemic is therefore not over, but I am happy for this first victory against the virus,” he said.
As of Saturday, France registered 24 new deaths from COVID-19, bringing the country’s toll to 29,398, according to figures released by the National Public Health Agency.
The latest single-day deaths were fewer than the 28 fatalities recorded a day before. Saturday also saw 526 new cases of infection, down from Friday’s 726, taking the tally to 156,813.
Hospital admissions continued to decline for the second month in a row. Some 10,909 people remain hospitalized for coronavirus infection, compared with 11,124 recorded on Friday. Patients who needed to be put on a ventilator dropped by 8 to 871.
In his fourth prime-time address since the coronavirus outbreak in early March, Macron acknowledged that the unprecedented health crisis has revealed France’s “flaws and weaknesses”, such as dependence on other continents for certain products, cumbersome organization, social and regional inequalities.
“Our strengths, we will reinforce them, our weaknesses, we will correct them quickly and strongly,” he pledged. “I want us to learn all the lessons from what we have experienced.”
“The moment we are going through…forces us to open a new stage in order to regain full control of our lives, our destiny, in France and in Europe,” he said.
Laying out the economic and social agenda for the next two years, Macron stressed that the “first priority is to rebuild a strong, ecological, sovereign and united economy.”
With the aim, he vowed to bolster research and improve the attractiveness of the country’s technological, industrial and agricultural sectors, with a major focus on green activities to create jobs for the future.
Furthermore, the head of state pledged “massive investment in education, training, and jobs for youth,” and more “stimulus that will better protect seniors and the poorest.”
Macron said he will address the nation again in July to “launch the first actions” of the “new path” for the final two years of his mandate.