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People's Daily Online

France envisages gradual lockdown exit: official

People's Daily Online

(Xinhua) 09:03, November 23, 2020

PARIS, Nov. 22 (Xinhua) -- As the countdown on the second confinement starts amid improved epidemic data, France envisaged a three-stage process to return to normalcy to avoid the virus resurgence, government spokesperson Gabriel Attal announced on Sunday.

Speaking to the weekly newspaper Le Journal Du Dimanche (JDD), Attal said easing restriction "will be carried out in three steps following the health situation and related risks of some activities: a first stage around Dec. 1, then before the year-end holidays, and from January 2021."

"What is at stake is adapting lockdown rules as the health situation improves while avoiding a new flare-up in the epidemic," said Attal.

He added that shop owners would be able to reopen early December, while restriction on catering businesses and people's movement would be maintained.

Since September, coronavirus figures in France spiraled to levels much higher than in the first wave of the pandemic, dragging the country into its second national lockdown on Oct. 30. The additional anti-coronavirus rules are effective until next month.

After a record of some 69,500 single-day new cases registered on Nov. 2, the incidence rate has been declining in last weeks.

As of Saturday, France has recorded 2,127,051 confirmed cases, after a single-day increase of 17,881, fewer than 22,882 recorded a day before. The cumulative number of deaths was at 48,518, up by 276.

What's encouraging is that the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients fell by 709 to 31,197, a decline for the fifth consecutive day. Some 4,509 patients remained in intensive care units, down by 73 in one day.

On Tuesday evening, French President Emmanuel Macron will make a televised appearance to unveil the next steps the country will take in its fight against the epidemic.

"Nothing is worse than uncertainty and the feeling of endless gloom. We need consistency, clarity, a roadmap. Knowing together where we are going and how to get there," Macron told JDD.

"This is difficult, because the pandemic is inherently unpredictable and global. But...confidence is the key to success," he added.

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