French schools reopen as more COVID-19 restrictions lifted
Millions of children returned to school in France on Monday as the country entered phase three of the loosening of COVID-19 lockdown rules.
There has been no recent spike in infections in France and new cases have stood at around 450 per day from a peak of 7,5000.
Social distancing measures are still in place and wearing face masks on public transport is compulsory. But what else has changed after more than two months of lockdown?
Schools fully reopen
Many French children had not stepped on school grounds since March 16, when institutions closed and a day before the national lockdown began.
Though schools had started gradually reopening on May 11th, strict hygiene measures and limited class sizes meant students were either attending only part-time or were homeschooled.
Physical distancing measures have now been relaxed and the limit for the number of students in a class has been scrapped. Though a one-metre social distancing rule has been recommended in primary schools.
Until June 22, parents were given the option of sending their children back to school. But it is now compulsory to send children to school or register for homeschooling.
“Everything is being done so that their children will be welcomed safely,” assured government spokesperson Sibeth Ndiaye on Sunday.
The show goes on in cinemas and theatres
French cinemas and theatres will also reopen from June 22. But hygiene measures have been put in place for the moment, which includes masks and space between cinema and theatergoers.
The rules for social gatherings are still limited to a maximum of 10 people, with the exception of funerals, which since June 18, has no restrictions on the number of people who can attend.
Bars and restaurants reopened in many places on June 2 and nationwide from June 14, but physical distancing measures are in place and staff must wear masks.
As for demonstrations, which have mounted in the wake of the death of George Floyd in the US, up to 5,000 people can protest, but they must respect social distancing measures and must wear masks if not possible.
Events or gatherings of more than 5,000 people is not expected to be allowed before August 31st.
Measures brought forward
French President Emmanuel Macron brought forward other measures that were meant for June 22.
From June 15, museums, tourist sites, gyms and swimming pools were also allowed to reopen from many parts of France. The country also reopened its borders to travellers from the Schengen area on the same day.