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LifeStyle 74 News From The Papers

What reopens in France from June 2? French bars, restaurants and parks to reopen with restrictions

FRANCE 24 - 28/05/2020

France on Thursday announced the long-awaited nationwide reopening of bars, restaurants and cafes from June 2, albeit with restrictions, and lifted limitations on domestic travel in time for the summer holidays.

In the capital Paris, where the risk of coronavirus spread remains higher than in the rest of the mainland, only the outside terraces of eating and drinking establishments can reopen to clients, said Prime Minister Edouard Philippe.

Announcing details of the second phase in a gradual lifting of France’s strict coronavirus lockdown, he said people would no longer be confined to within 100 kilometers of their homes.

“Freedom will be the rule and restriction the exception,” said Philippe, adding the country was “in a better place than where we expected to be” after the first two weeks post-lockdown.

After a meeting of top cabinet members to agree on the next phase, the premier said more schools would reopen.

Museums and monuments are to reopen to visitors nationwide from June 2, though face masks must be worn.

Holiday resorts will reopen too, from June 22, and parks and gardens from next week.

Cinemas can open from June 22 while theatres can also open from June 2, although social distancing rules will have to be observed, he said.

Caution remains

But Philippe reiterated that the virus, which has claimed more than 28,500 lives in the country to date, “continues to circulate” with hundreds of people still being treated in intensive care.

He urged people to continue respecting social-distancing measures and maintain a strict hand-washing regime, and said gatherings of more than 10 people in public places would remain prohibited.

It is already mandatory to wear a face mask on public transport.

As for dining out, a mainstay of French culture, Philippe specified people can meet in restaurants and cafes in groups of no more than 10, and with a minimum of one meter between tables.

In Paris, only outside tables can be occupied.

Servers and cooks will have to wear masks at all times, and customers upon entering and leaving, said the premier.

As for bars, there will be no drinking at the counter, which carries a higher risk of people contaminating one another.


Protecting or profiling? French divided over launch of coronavirus tracing app

FRANCE 24 - 28/05/2020

Video by: Catherine NORRIS-TRENT

French lawmakers on Wednesday approved a government-backed cellphone app, that will alert users if they have been in contact with a person infected by the coronavirus.

Set to be launched this weekend, the StopCovid app – use of which will remain voluntary – is designed to keep track of users who have been in close proximity over a two-week period.

Privacy defenders have expressed fears that the app marks the first step towards a society under constant online surveillance.

FRANCE 24's Catherine Norris-Trent reports.

AUDIO: Covid-19 tracing app - protecting or profiling?


Lawmaker Claude Goasguen dies of Covid-19

RFI - 28/05/2020

Claude Goasguen, a French lawmaker, member of the right wing Les Républicains political party, died on Thursday at the age of 75 after contracting Covid-19.

Claude Goasguen was a colorful, fiery man with an explosive temperament, and a long political career, particularly in the 16th arrondissement of Paris.

In November last year, Goasguen became Rachida Dati's political adviser in the local elections campaign in Paris, after having maintained tense relations with the LR (Les Républicains) candidate.

A pugnacious speaker, the Paris MP sat in the Assembly almost without interruption since 1993.

A Paris councillor since 1983, Claude Goasguen had been deputy to Jacques Chirac and Jean Tiberi, in charge of international relations and then of school and university life.

At the time of Jacques Chirac's death in September, he hailed him as "a model" who had taught him "everything about politics".

Born on 12 March 1945 in Toulon, this lawyer by profession was dean of the Faculty of Law and Political Science of Paris XIII (from 1982 to 1986) and lecturer at HEC Economics School.

He was a member of the Assembly's Foreign Affairs Committee and a member of several study groups, notably on Eastern Christians, anti-Semitism and the Kurds.

A Knight of the Order of the Legion of Honour and the National Order of Merit, Claude Goasguen was married and father of two children.


Confirmed French coronavirus cases jump due to systems update, but daily deaths stay low

FRANCE 24 - 28/05/2020

The number of confirmed coronavirus infections in France jumped by 3,325 to 149,071 on Thursday, though the increase was not due to a rise in daily infections but was a result of the inclusion of data from a new tracking system, the health ministry said in a statement.

“The increase compared to yesterday is due to more efficient tracking, not to the epidemiological situation in France,” the ministry said in a statement.

The Covid-19 death toll for the past 24 hours came in at 66, adding up to a total of 28,662 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

In Brief…

France to reopen bars and restaurants and scrap 100km rule in June

France will continue to ease restrictions put in place to combat the coronavirus epidemic, the Prime Minister announced on Thursday, as the country prepares to re-open bars, cafés, parks and schools and scrap the 100km travel limit.

France aims to reopen borders for European travel from June 15th

France removes exemption for over 60s as it toughens language levels for citizenship


LifeStyle 74 Weather

Sunny today with cumulous clouds over mountains this afternoon, more numerous in the Simplon region. Max Temps 21° on the plain, 24° in Valais. 0 at 3200 meters. Moderate Bise winds on the Plateau.

Saturday & Sunday
Generally Sunny. A few cumulous clouds over mountains during the afternoon, more numerous in the Alps. A shower or thundershower not excluded, but mainly in the Valaisanne Alps. Max Temps 20° to 23°C. 0° at 2800 meters. Moderate Bise winds.

Monday & Tuesday
Mostly Sunny. Chance of a thunderstorm in the Alps. More Likely Tuesday. Highs 23° to 27°C. Weak Bise winds.

Mostly Sunny and warm. Perhaps a shower or thundershower, especially in the mountains.

Partly Sunny. A shower or thundershower likely.

That’s the weather from you friends at LifeStyle 74. Thanks for your financial support. Big bills come due on Monday. Your most generous donations are welcome now. Ring LifeStyle 74 radio on 022 501 78 65 in Switzerland. In France 045 043 74 74. Complete information above.  Click on "financial support."


LifeStyle 74 News From The Papers

French economy could shrink 20 percent in second quarter, statistics agency says

RFI - 27/05/2020

France’s economy is making a clear recovery two weeks after the end of a two-month coronavirus lockdown but current government predictions for its outcome are unrealistic, national statistics agency Insee said Wednesday.

Two weeks since the end of a nationwide confinement that lasted from 17 March to 10 May, the French economy is operating “at roughly four-fifths of its pre-crisis level”, compared to two-thirds during the lockdown, Insee said in its latest economic outlook on Wednesday.

Closing non-essential businesses and ordering people to remain home to slow the spread of Covid-19 caused France’s gross domestic product (GDP) to retract 5.8 percent in the first quarter, which ended in March.

The full impact of confinement on the economy will only be known after the second quarter ends in June.

Insee predicted GDP would fall around 20 percent, which would mark what the agency called “the severest recession since the creation of the national accounts in 1948”.

Government’s prediction unrealistic

The agency also expressed caution about the pace of economic recovery over the coming weeks, though it expected a trend of improvement.

“Economic activity in June could be on the order of 14 percent below normal (after -25 percent on average in May and -35 percent on average in April)” Insee said in an economic activity report.

But the agency said current government forecasts of an overall retraction of 8 percent in 2020 was unlikely to be the case.

Consumer spending down

Businesses now have to deal with a slower global economy. Although consumer spending rebounded after lockdown, consumer confidence was down from April, when lockdown measures were in full effect.

Insee’s consumer confidence index fell 2 points to stand at 93 points in May, after dropping 8 points in April. The index is calculated so that 100 is the long-term average.

“Households are displaying a marked pessimism concerning France’s economic situation,” the agency noted.

Business confidence rose slightly to 59 points after hitting 53 points in April, its lowest level since Insee began calculating the index in 1980.


Former mayor of posh Paris district jailed along with wife for 'persistent fraud'

RFI - 27/05/2020

The former mayor of Levallois-Perret, Patrick Balkany, and his wife, Isabelle, lost their appeal Wednesday against a money laundering and tax fraud conviction.

Patrick and Isabelle Balkany, for years governed the wealthy Paris suburb of Levallois-Perret. They were sentenced to prison terms of five and four years respectively.

But they were not ordered behind bars immediately pending an appeal to France's highest court. Patrick Balkany had been released to house arrest in February because of health problems.

In March, the two had already lost an appeal against tax fraud convictions after they were found guilty of using offshore accounts to hide at least 13 million euros in assets from the tax authorities, including luxury villas in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh and in the West Indies.

On Wednesday, the appeals court confirmed the seizure of assets as well as the payment of one million euros in damages, saying the couple had implemented a system of "persistent fraud".

Patrick Balkany, age 71, was first elected mayor of Levallois-Perret in 1983, and also held a seat in parliament for many years. He appeared in the Paris courtroom without his wife and made no comment after the decision.

His lawyer Romain Dieudonne said he had five days to decide on a further appeal, while his wife's lawyer Pierre-Olivier Sur told reporters the ruling was "excessive."

The couple was also sentenced to 10 years' ineligibility and each spouse was fined 100,000 euros.


Paris' unlikely ‘superhero’ is saving people from confinement by picking the locks on parks

RFI - 27/05/2020

A mysterious figure who picks the locks of Paris parks at night, for people who have been cooped up in the city's tiny apartments, has become something of a folk hero.

Parks have been chained up in Europe's most densely populated capital since the coronavirus lockdown began more than eight weeks ago.

Despite the Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo pleading with the government to allow them to reopen if people wore masks, ministers have been unmoved.

But as temperatures nudged towards 30 degrees Celsius this week, an amateur lock-picker admitted that he has been opening parks at night to let hard-pressed Parisians sit on the grass and smell the roses.

A man calling himself "Jose" told the Parisien daily that he has been liberating parks in the poorer districts of northern and eastern Paris in a series of "Batman" style nocturnal actions.

Two handwritten posters hanging from the railings of the Parc de Belleville on Friday said "Thank you, Jose!", seeming to show that the phantom lock picker has generated a following.

Discontent with the closure of parks has been rising since France began to slowly relax its lockdown last week, with the police forced to clear the huge open lawns in front of Les Invalides in central Paris of picnickers twice in two days.

Paris Exodus

Officers had earlier dispersed hundreds of people from the banks of Canal Saint-Martin.

Jose, who claims he only picks locks as a hobby and makes an honest living from a "normal job", said: "Paris apartments are very small. We are supposed to be coming out of lockdown, but everything is closed."

Almost a quarter of Paris's population escaped the city -- often to second homes in the country -- during the strictest period of the confinement.

But the city's poor and essential workers were stuck in often tiny flats during one of the sunniest springs on record.

Treat parks like streets

Hidalgo, who is fighting a re-election campaign, asked the government to treat parks like the city's streets and allow people to "stroll through them if they were wearing a mask, which should be obligatory".

But Health Minister Olivier Veran said the parks should stay shut as long as Paris and its surroundings remain in the "red zone" of infections.

He said the risk of people gathering and not respecting social distancing was too great.

But the mayor's supporters argued that it made no sense to allow Parisians to take metros or crowded suburban trains while denying them the chance of fresh air.


France revokes decree authorizing use of hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid-19

FRANCE 24 - 27/05/2020

The French government on Wednesday revoked a decree authorizing hospitals to prescribe the controversial drug for Covid-19 patients after France’s public health watchdog warned against its use to treat the disease.

The government’s decision comes two days after the World Health Organization (WHO) said safety concerns had prompted it to suspend use of the drug in a global trial.

Last week, a study published in British medical journal The Lancet found patients randomized to get hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) had increased mortality rates and higher frequency of irregular heartbeats.

HCQ is normally prescribed to treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, but US President Donald Trump and others have touted it as a possible treatment for Covid-19.

The drug has been the subject of much debate in France, where “maverick” Professor Didier Raoult claimed in March to have successfully treated Covid-19 patients using a combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin.


However, doctors have questioned the value of Professor Raoult’s study. They say it was poorly designed, and based on too small a sample to offer hard evidence of benefit.

Professor Raoult, would beg to differ. He says he has had considerable success, particularly when hydroxychloroquine was given early in the progression of the disease.


Deconfinement in France: PM to outline second phase

Cafés, bars, and restaurants are among the sites and establishments that may reopen from June 2, the PM is expected to announce

The French Prime Minister is to address the country this Thursday (May 28) to detail the second phase of deconfinement, including whether bars and restaurants will reopen, and if travel beyond 100km will be allowed.

The second phase of deconfinement is set to begin on June 2.

A new map of France - with an official update on which departments are “green” and “red” - will also be published. This new map will have a direct impact on which rules will be implemented from June 2, including the reopening (or not) of collèges, lycées, bars, restaurants, beaches, sports halls and swimming pools.

Mr. Philippe said: “I will address the public at the end of May to assess the conditions under which we will organize a new phase of deconfinement, and in

New colour map

Travel within 100km

The rule that limits travel to within 100km of your home (as the crow flies) may change on June 2. Junior transport minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne said in an interview this week that “a significant expansion” of this radius may be possible.

Cafés, bars, and restaurants

These may open from June 2 in green departments, as hinted by Mr. Philippe during his address on the government’s plan to kickstart tourism, in the Plan Relance Tourisme, on May 14.

If all goes as expected, it is likely that this will go ahead, with all establishments permitted to reopen from June 2 in green areas, with some restrictions such as continued hygiene precautions and social distancing as much as possible.

Parks and gardens

These have been open in green zones for several weeks already, but there are suggestions that some could reopen in red zones - especially in Paris - from June 2. Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, and a number of associations, have called on the government to allow green spaces to reopen in the capital - under certain conditions - for the public’s “physical and mental health”.


These are set to reopen from June 2 nationwide. Until now it has been up to local department authorities to decide whether it is safe to reopen beaches. Similarly, until now, even on beaches that are open, sunbathing or staying seated on the sand have not been permitted (only swimming or walking / running have been allowed).

This may change come June 2.

Sports halls and swimming pools

These may reopen from June 2. Currently only individual outdoor sports are allowed.

Cultural centers and trips

Currently only small museums and media centers are allowed to open. But the government is set to announce whether large museums, cinemas, theatres, and concert halls will be allowed to reopen from June 2.

The prime minister has previously said (on April 28) that festival halls and multi-purpose activity halls will remain closed “until June 1”.

Theme parks

These are set to reopen in green zones from June 2, with some local variations. For example, the Puy du Fou park in the Vendée has said it will reopen from June 11.

Theme parks may need some extra days to put health measures in place before they can reopen - according to a report by newspaper La Dépêche du Midi, quoting the director of theme park group Walibi (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes) and waterpark Aqualand in Agen (‎Lot-et-Garonne, Nouvelle-Aquitaine).


These are expected to reopen on June 2.

Religious ceremonies

The interior minister has said that it is hoped that religious ceremonies will be able to restart from June 3. However, some sites have been permitted to start reopening since May 23.

Schools, collèges, lycées

Collèges and lycées remain closed in red zones. In green zones, only students in sixième and cinquième have returned to class, with some restrictions.

Most primary and elementary schools are now open everywhere.

From June 2, lycées may reopen, beginning with professional lycées. Students in the première year are, nevertheless, still expected to be preparing the spoken part of their Bac français (French final exams).

National education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer is set to announce if this exam will still be taken at the end of June.


Vintage alpine egg-shaped cable cars up for auction

Connexion - 27 May 2020

The red, egg-shaped cable-car cabins that took skiers to the plateau of Samoëns in Haute-Savoie are up for auction after work started on a new, high capacity system. Introduced in 1973, the futuristic cabins became a symbol of modernity and skiing fun, and were featured in newspapers and magazines across the world.

Innovative ideas

“They were the absolute top at the time,” said Alain Lachaud who has written a book about the history of skiing in Samoëns. "Their bright color, the shape, and the fact they could be stopped so people could get inside easily were all new. And to be sheltered from the wind and snow while having a panoramic view, was magic!”

By modern standards, though, the eggs have aged. Their wooden slat seats and lack of space means that it is an effort for four large adults to fit in them. An auction of the 80 cabins is due to be held as soon as the government gives the go-ahead for auctions to resume after the Covid 19 lockdown.

In 2012 the station of Deux Alpes auctioned off 79 of its cable-car cabins, which had a rounded shape and which were also bright red, with a reserve price of €150 each. Many of the buyers said they wanted to have the 500kg cabins, each two meters high and 1.4m wide, in their gardens.


That’s LifeStyle 74 News From The Papers on Thursday, May 28th

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