France’s gradual lockdown phase-out can start on 11 May, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe confirmed on Thursday.
However, France is “cut in two,” into green and red ‘departments,’ Philippe said. The country’s 101 departments got assigned different colours depending on the level of severity of the health situation.
Departments (départements) are the numbered second-tier administrative subdivisions of France, with the numbers widely used in France to designate locations.
“Deconfinement is possible” in red departments from 11 May as well but “with certain restrictions: no opening of schools, parks and gardens,” Philippe added, whereas green departments can envisage a return to class for sixth and fifth-grade pupils from 18 May.
Philippe specifically mentioned the department of Mayotte, where deconfinement has to be postponed, and Ile-de-France – the region including and surrounding Paris -, where “the number of cases is falling slowly but remains high, higher than we had hoped for”.
Nevertheless, Ile-de-France too can deconfine as the trend is going in the right direction, Philippe clarified.
Vulnerable people will not face compulsory confinement after 11 May, though Philippe asked that the elderly and those with “pathologies such as obesity, diabetes,” or those with “respiratory insufficiency” maintain “very strict rules of caution” similar to those of the past two months.
As of Wednesday, France counted 131,292 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus (Covid-19) and 25,491 citizens died of the virus according to the WHO.