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AFP

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Primary schools can reopen across France from Monday

Measures to curb the spread of coronavirus will be kept in place in Paris when the lockdown is eased in other parts of France, its PM says.

Edouard Philippe said the country was “cut in two” in terms of the rate of infections. Restrictions will remain in the capital and north-eastern regions.

It comes as France prepares to relax its lockdown on Monday, with shops and some schools allowed to reopen.

The country has suffered one of the highest Covid-19 death rates in Europe.

More than 25,800 people there have died from the disease in hospitals and care homes, but the number of new cases has also fallen in recent days.

Restrictions – introduced on 17 March – would be lifted over the course of several weeks, Prime Minister Philippe said on Thursday.

“It’s good news for France and for the French people,” he said.

The government has issued a colour-coded map of the country, splitting it into green and red areas depending on the rate of infection.

Restrictions will be eased more in the green areas than the red for the time being.

To begin with, primary schools and most businesses will be allowed to reopen in both zones. Cafes, restaurants and secondary schools will be able to reopen in June in the green zones, infection rates permitting, Mr Philippe said.

In Paris and the four adjoining regions – Ile-de-France, Hauts-de-France, Grand Est Bourgogne-Franche-Comte – which comprise the red zone, public parks and gardens will stay shut.

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French health ministry

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France’s PM described a country “cut in two” by the coronavirus

Masks must be on worn on public transport, which will be disinfected at least once a day, and stores will have the right to ask shoppers to wear them. Social distancing rules will also stay in place.

But for the first time since the lockdown began, people everywhere (except the French Indian Ocean island of Mayotte) can go back to work and leave home without downloading a permit.

Video surveillance cameras will monitor how many people are wearing masks and staying at least a metre (3ft) apart.

In other developments in Europe:

  • Sweden’s reported death toll has now passed 3,000. The country did not impose strict lockdown measures and although the toll is higher than in its Scandinavian neighbours it is lower per capital than Britain, France, Spain or Italy
  • UK PM Boris Johnson is to announce for the first time on Sunday plans to ease the country’s lockdown
  • Restrictions in Moscow are to be extended until 31 May, the city’s mayor has said
  • Germany’s Bundesliga will resume on 16 May, the first major European football league to do so
  • Greece will reopen museums in June, the culture ministry says. Tourism is a vital part of the Greek economy.

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