France to decide end-May when to reopen bars, restaurants

FILE PHOTO: A message on a closed restaurant reads "Closed because of the coronavirus" in Vincennes during a lockdown imposed to slow the rate of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in France, April 23, 2020. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

PARIS (Reuters) - France will decide towards the end of May when bars and restaurants will be allowed to reopen, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Friday, as the government prepares to ease some of its coronavirus lockdown measures from May 11.

Bars and restaurants in France have been shut since March 14, three days before a wider stay-at-home order came into force to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

“Nothing would be worse than to make a hasty reopening which would then force us to close again. It would be a huge disappointment for the restaurant owners, a huge disappointment for French people as well”, Le Maire told reporters.

The government has said it will announce a more detailed plan for exiting the lockdown next week.

From May 11, children will begin returning to school, but this will be organised in stages and classes will be much smaller in order to reduce infection risks.

Reporting by Henri-Pierre Andre and Matthieu Protard; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky