France is preparing to ease its Covid-19 quarantine in the weeks leading up to Christmas with new daily caseloads falling and pressure building from retailers to allow the annual shopping season to go ahead, as parts of east Asia that were thought to be controlling the disease raised the possibility of new restrictions.
The French president, Emmanuel Macron, will on Tuesday address the country and is expected to announce a three-stage pathway out of a stringent lockdown that has been in place since 30 October.
“There will be three steps to easing in view of the health situation and of risks tied to some businesses: a first step around 1 December, then before the year-end holidays, and then from January 2021,” the government spokesman Gabriel Attal told Le Journal du Dimanche.
He flagged that retailers would be permitted to reopen in time for Christmas, when many make the bulk of their annual turnover. “We had committed to allow them to reopen around 1 December if the health situation improved, which seems to be the case,” Attal said.
Bars and restaurants, however, “will continue to experience restrictions”, he added.France coronavirus cases
The number of new coronavirus infections in France rose by 17,881 on Saturday, lower than the 22,882 reported on Friday, while the number of people in hospital with Covid-19 dropped for the fifth day in a row to 31,365.
South Korea, which has employed an aggressive tracing, testing and quarantine effort to stamp down outbreaks without imposing lockdowns, warned that social distancing rules may need to be tightened in the light of a small but persistent increase in new cases over the past week.…