Lockdown loosening in France

France moved into the second phase of its loosened lockdown restrictions last Tuesday, 2nd June – so what changes did that bring to our everyday life?

France began to loosen its strict lockdown from 11th May, but encouraging data on the virus circulation meant that from 2nd June the country moved to the next phase of the plan which will last until 22nd June and returns life to a state where, according to the Prime Minister Edouard Philippe:

……freedom will, finally, be the rule and restriction the exception.

As with all stages of France’s lockdown plan, this comes with the caveat that restrictions could be reimposed if the health situation worsens. Plus, local authorities retained the power to impose extra restrictions in their area.

So what changed?

The map of France divided into green and orange zones for phase 2

                                Map: Santé Publique France

France is now divided only into two zones where the vast majority of the country is coloured green – showing a low circulation of the virus. Unsurprisingly, the exception is the greater Paris Île-de-France region, which is coloured orange to show higher levels of the virus, along with the overseas départements of French Guyana and Mayotte. Orange zones naturally have more restrictions than green ones.

Bars, cafés and restaurants

These could reopen from 2nd June, having been closed by government order since 15th March. There are a lot of hygiene restrictions for owners to abide by, including spaces of at least one metre (3 feet) between tables, and in orange zones – including Paris – only outdoor terraces can reopen.

We went out for coffee on the Tuesday to one of our usual hangouts and things were quiet, almost deadly quiet. However, it was only day one and many places close anyway on Tuesdays. Friday we went out for lunch at our favourite local restaurant and it was reasonably busy, about 50% of their normal trade and all regulars.

The 100km rule

This rule was scrapped and people can now travel freely around France for any reason, without the need for a self-certified form (attestation). The second week of half-term saw a number of French holiday makers in their second-homes in the Domaine – good news.

Seats of learning

The gradual reopening of schools was accelerated, with all infant, primary and secondary schools able to re-open.  Maximum class sizes remain, however, so many pupils will only be attending for part of the week. High schools (lycées) will only reopen in the green zones and universities will continue with online teaching.

Parks, beaches and gardens

These have now all reopened though it’s down to individual local authorities on whether masks are compulsory in parks, beaches and gardens.

We had a picnic on the beach on Saturday evening. It was the usual crowd and we may have just numbered 2 x 10, including dogs and children. It was so nice to catch up with everyone’s news in person and we’ll be getting together like this on a regular basis.

Gyms and swimming pools

All gyms in green zones have reopened with those in orange zones scheduled to reopen on 22nd June. The same applies to swimming pools. Thank goodness my beloved can finally use the Domaine’s 50 metre, Olympic-sized outdoor pool.

Cinemas, theatres and museums

Theatres and museums have begun to reopen in green zones, while orange zones must wait again until 22nd June. Cinemas can reopen in the whole country as of 22nd June. Wearing a mask will be mandatory in all these spaces.

What doesn’t change

While life in general looks and feels a lot freer, there are still restrictions in place.

  • Those who can work from home are asked to continue to do so
  • Masks remain compulsory on public transport and shops can require their customers to wear masks – all our shops and shopping centre require masks to be worn
  • Gatherings in a public place are still limited to a maximum of 10, although there is no restriction on gatherings in private residences
  • Contacts sports remain banned and professional sports such as rugby and football are not expected to restart before September
  • Nightclubs and music venues remain closed
  • The rules on international travel remain in place, with entry into France heavily restricted. This is not expected to change before 15th June.

What else?

The annual Bastille Day military parade in Paris on 14th July 14 will be replaced with a much smaller tribute to health workers. However, the football authorities are hoping the postponed French Cup final could still go ahead before a limited number of spectators in Paris. While both domestic Cup finals, postponed in April, may now be staged in August just before the planned start of next season.

The government hopes to further ease restrictions from 22nd June, and the second round of voting for the country’s municipal elections, originally set for March, are now planned for 28th June.