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France wants to lift a nationwide lockdown on December 15, said President Emmanuel Macron. The shops are allowed to reopen on Saturday after being closed for weeks.

In a TV address on Tuesday, Macron said some restrictions would remain in place to avoid recurrence of the virus and the risk of re-lockdown.

“We have slowed the spread of the virus,” said Macron, “but it is still very much present”.

Just moments before the president’s address, the French health department reported 458 new coronavirus deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 50,237.

According to health officials, the second wave of the virus peaked last week. The number of new infections, new admissions to hospitals and new intensive care patients fell while the death rate stabilized.

“If we don’t want a third ban, we need to step up our efforts,” said Macron, protecting the most vulnerable groups and wearing masks “even when we’re with friends or relatives who don’t live under the same roof.”

The current lockdown, which has been in place since late October, will be replaced with a nationwide curfew starting December 15, from 9:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m., Macron said, except on December 24th and 31st – Christmas Eve and New Years Eve.

“We can travel without a permit, even between regions, and spend Christmas with our families,” said Macron.

However, the French should avoid “pointless travel,” he said.

Cinemas, theaters and museums are allowed to reopen on December 15th.

But restaurants – like high schools – will have to wait until January 20 to reopen, and only on the condition that the daily new virus cases drop below 5,000, Macron said.

He did not give a target date for the reopening of bars, cafes or nightclubs.

France’s 350 ski resorts, which are among the most popular in Europe, will not be allowed to reopen in time for the end of the year, Macron said.

According to Macron, it is preferable to plan to reopen the resorts in January “under favorable conditions”.

From Saturday until December 15 until the closure, people can move freely around their homes for up to three hours a day within a 20-kilometer radius, compared to a kilometer and an hour now.

Religious ceremonies will also be re-approved starting Saturday, but are limited to 30 people, Macron said.

Macron also said he hoped the first COVID vaccines would be available in late December or early January.

Vaccines would be made available to high-risk populations first and not mandatory, Macron vowed.

Government spokeswoman Gabrial Attal previously said France had already signed three vaccination contracts with pharmaceutical companies, while talks with three others were “at a very advanced stage” and further discussions were ongoing. Each contract signed would cover approximately 30 million vaccine doses, Attal said.

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© 2020 AFP

Quote: France ends lockdown December 15, shops on Saturday (November 24, 2020) reopened on November 24, 2020 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-11-france-lockdown-dec-reopen-saturday.html

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