France to accelerate easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions

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France to accelerate easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions

PARIS – French President Emmanuel Macron said on Sunday said he was accelerating plans to ease the country’s coronavirus lockdown to revive the euro zone’s second biggest economy more swiftly.

Macron promised that the cost of keeping companies afloat and people in jobs during the worst economic downturn since World War II would not be passed to households through taxes.

Restaurants and cafes in Paris will be allowed to reopen fully on Monday, Macron said in a televised address, bringing relief to a hospitality industry battered by the crisis.

On June 22, all nursery schools, primary schools and junior high schools will be open and mandatory for all students — instead of classes capped to small groups and many children staying at home.

France is reopening its borders with other European countries Sunday night and will start allowing visitors from other continents on July 1st.

The government expects the economy to shrink by 11% in 2020.

“We must relaunch our economy,” Macron said.

The coronavirus emergency had exposed France’s — and more broadly Europe’s — heavy reliance on global supply chains, from the car industry to smart phones and pharmaceuticals, that were paralyzed when the epidemic first broke out in China.

“The only answer is to build a new, stronger economic model, work and produce more, so as not to rely on others,” Macron said.

As of Sunday, France had 193,746 confirmed cased and 39,401 deaths due to coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Macron also touched on the anti-racism protests that have spread to France in the wake of the death of African American George Floyd in the United States.

The global outpouring of anger has forced France to confront allegations from ethnic minorities and rights group of racism and brutality within France’s own law enforcement agencies.

Macron said skin color too often reduced a person’s opportunities in France, promising to be unflinching against all discrimination.

The Associated Press contributed.

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