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Covid-19: Wearing face masks will be 'recommended' but not mandatory in France

Le président Emmanuel Macron lors d'une visite dans un centre médical à Pantin, près de Paris, le 7 avril 2020.
Le président Emmanuel Macron lors d'une visite dans un centre médical à Pantin, près de Paris, le 7 avril 2020. REUTERS - Gonzalo Fuentes

French President Emmanuel Macron told mayors on Thursday that wearing face masks in public to minimise the spread of the coronavirus will be "recommended" but not compulsory after the country removes its lockdown on May 11. He also announced that further details on the process of easing restrictions will be unveiled on Tuesday.

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In Thursday's address to France's mayors giving some details on what the country will look like after May 11, Macron added that the criteria for people to be allowed to wear surgical face masks will be expanded.

He also announced that the reopening of schools on the same date will now be on a voluntary basis.

A more detailed plan on how France will reverse its confinement measures will be set out on Tuesday, the Élysée Palace announced afterwards.

As its economy reels from the impact of the lockdown, France offered retailers some relief earlier on Thursday, saying it wanted them to reopen on May 11, though some curbs could remain in certain areas to delay a new wave of the coronavirus.

The government has ruled out restaurants, bars and cafes reopening straight after the lockdown is lifted, and Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire indicated restrictions were likely to remain in regions that have been hit worst by the virus.

"We want all retailers to be able to open on May 11 in the same way out of fairness," Le Maire told France Info radio, though he said protocols would first have to be worked out to protect clients and workers alike.

France has suffered the world's fourth-highest reported coronavirus death toll of more than 20,000, with more than 158,000 infections.

Macron ordered the lockdown in mid-March to slow the spread of the virus, but the government has been working on a plan that aims to reduce as much as possible the chances of France being hit by a second wave of coronavirus cases when it ends.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AFP)

 

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