France’s cafes, restaurants reopen, but in Paris, only the terraces

People wearing protective face masks while queuing at an ice-cream shop in Strasbourg, eastern France. (File/AFP)
Short Url
Updated 02 June 2020

France’s cafes, restaurants reopen, but in Paris, only the terraces

  • Eating and drinking establishments prepared to welcome back customers in the second phase of a step-by-step lifting of lockdown
  • In Paris, cafes, bars and restaurants will be limited to outside terraces

PARIS: French people head back to their beloved cafes and restaurants Tuesday after weeks cooped up in coronavirus confinement, marking a further step toward normality.
As thousands thronged parks and gardens reopened over the weekend, eating and drinking establishments prepared to welcome back customers in the second phase of a step-by-step lifting of lockdown.
“We have spent several hours cleaning,” said Theo Stuzmann, head waiter of the renowned Maison Kammerzell restaurant in Strasbourg, eastern France.
And a second, more thorough disinfection was due before they opened on Tuesday, he told AFP.
“Optimism reigns today,” said Herve Becam of the UMIH hospitality union, welcoming the return of reservations.
French people can again “live a life which is almost normal,” said Prime Minister Edouard Philippe last week, as he announced the reopenings.
But in Paris, where the coronavirus remains more active than in the rest of mainland France, cafes, bars and restaurants will be limited to outside terraces.
To cater for the expected rush back to the city’s eateries, the city council gave special permission for tables to be placed on sidewalks, parking spots and other public places. Several roads will also be closed to car traffic.
The government credits France’s strict lockdown, which lasted from March 17 to May 11, with saving thousands of lives by relieving pressure on hospitals, but is eager to restart an economy devastated by the measures.
The country, which has suffered nearly 29,000 deaths, also faces an “historic recession,” says Philippe, and a sharp rise in unemployment claims.
The spread of the virus appears to be under control in most of France, designated “green zones’.
But the Paris Ile-de-France region and the overseas territories of Guiana and Mayotte, still in the higher-risk “orange” category, face a slower easing of the lockdown restrictions.
Across the country, public gatherings of more than 10 people are still banned until June 21. And people still have to wear masks in public transport, stations and airports.
People can dine together in restaurants in groups of no more than 10, but with a minimum one-meter (3.3 foot) distance between tables.
But all beaches can reopen from Tuesday, and weddings can once again be celebrated.
Primary and middle schools will open countrywide, as well as high schools in green zones — but progressively and with a limited number of pupils per class.
Epidemiologist Arnaud Fontanet, a member of the scientific council advising the government, struck a note of caution.
“Every day, there are five new (outbreak) clusters... we have had more than 100 clusters declared since May 11, so we can see that the virus is still present,” he warned on BFMTV.
France’s StopCovid mobile app, that will alert users if they have been in close proximity of someone tested positive, will also come into use on Tuesday.
burs-mlr/jj/kaf


Philippines probes deadly police shooting of soldiers

Updated 9 min 30 sec ago

Philippines probes deadly police shooting of soldiers

  • Plainclothes soldiers were in pursuit of ‘bomb makers and suicide bombers’ from the Abu Sayyaf militant group

MANILA: Philippine authorities are investigating the deaths of four soldiers shot by police in the country’s restive south, with the defense minister vowing Thursday to “get to the bottom” of the incident.
The plainclothes soldiers were in pursuit of “bomb makers and suicide bombers” from the Abu Sayyaf militant group when they were attacked by police in the Muslim-majority province of Sulu on Monday, the army has said.
Army chief Gilbert Gapay has accused the nine officers involved of murdering the men, while Philippine National Police has described the shooting as a “misencounter.”
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the shootings were “a very unfortunate incident,” adding that the dead soldiers “were just doing their jobs.”
“We don’t want this to escalate. We will get to the bottom of this,” he said.
The country’s National Bureau of Investigation was probing the incident, and Lorenzana said the findings should be released soon.
The army has accused the police of firing on the soldiers even after they identified themselves as members of the military.
The officers have been detained while the investigation is under way, said Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano.
President Rodrigo Duterte will visit police and military commanders in the south, his spokesman Harry Roque said, without specifying when.
Abu Sayyaf is based in the south and has engaged in bombings as well as kidnappings of Western tourists and missionaries for ransom since the early 1990s.
They also have ties to Daesh militants seeking to set up a caliphate in Southeast Asia.