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COVID-19 in France: schools, borders and offices

Emmanuel Macron 4th address to the nation facing COVID-19

Last night, French President Emmanuel Macron held his fourth public address since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. He announced the implementation of a further wave of measures aiming toward normality.

As of this week and the next, major changes that French residents can expect to see include returning to schools and workplaces, as well as the borders reopening.

Green light to open up key establishments

It was announced last night that all of France was turning “green”, except the overseas territories of French Guiana and Mayotte. This means that the Paris region, the final “orange” zone, can now fully open bars, restaurants and cafés. Until now, these establishments found in “orange” zones could only welcome guests in outdoor seating.


Schools, care homes and elections

The president announced that it is mandatory for all school children to return to school, except those in upper secondary school (lycées), next Monday, June 22nd. This is in spite of the school year finishing mere days after, at the beginning of July.

France’s Minister of Education Jean-Michel Blanquer confirmed that roughly 50% of all school students had returned to the class room so far, even if for only one day a week.

After a ban of almost 13 weeks, visits to care and retirement homes are allowed as of this Monday. Masks must be worn and only two visitors are allowed at a time, despite France’s Minister of Health Olivier Véran reporting that “45% of care homes report having at least one case of COVID-19.”

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On 28th June, the second round of the municipal elections will take place, after a postponement of nearly three months.

Travel “destrictions”

Today, Schengen zone borders opened to welcome visitors, although air traffic remains restricted due to flight operators’ availability. Throughout June, for example, Nice Côte d’Azur Airport will run ten flights throughout Europe and 11 in France.

On July 1st, France’s external EU border will reopen, in line with recommendations made by the European Commission.

France’s economy facing post-lockdown

Macron stated the country was facing an economic crisis. However, while coronavirus easing measures had cost the country €500bn, there would be no rise in taxes.

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Although there is no official plan for rebuilding the economy, he suggested some measures would be revealed next month. A further €500bn has been set aside to stimulate French industry and youth employment.

Anti-racism protests an afterthought?

Macron did not directly mention the anti-racism protests which have taken place across France the previous two weekends, but he included a denunciation of anti-semitism, racism and discrimination, deeming them “unacceptable.”

He did, however, state that history was not going to be rewritten by these protests, and that works of art, statues and commemorations of France’s past would remain.

Reactions in France

The media reactions were mixed this morning over his address. French daily national newspaper Le Monde said that Macron gave himself a “certificate of satisfaction for his handling of the crisis,” whereas Le Figaro opted to describe his measures as a “new path” for France.

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