Hand gel at bus stops among post-lockdown measures for Paris

PARIS (Reuters) - Paris’ bus stops and metro entrances will be equipped with hand gel dispensers and commuters will likely be obliged to wear face masks to use public transport once coronavirus confinement measures are lifted, according to the city’s mayor.

France is due to start exiting its strict lockdown from May 11, with schools set to reopen then, but the government has yet to spell out when businesses like cafes and cinemas can restart and to what extent people will be allowed to move around.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo told the Journal Du Dimanche (JDD) newspaper in an interview published on Sunday that hand gel would be made widely available as the French capital tries to keep the virus spread under control.

This will include free dispensers at swimming pools, sports stadiums and nurseries, but also in the street and at bus stops, she said, adding that JCDecaux, a company known for making advertising billboards, was working on the scheme.

Asked whether authorities in the broader Paris region should make it compulsory to wear face masks in metros and on commuter trains, Hidalgo said discussions on that were under way.

“Given how crowded these lines are, this really strikes me as necessary,” Hidalgo said.

Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron’s government has faced criticism over a shortage of face masks and testing kits. The president has said that by May 11, France would be able to test anyone presenting COVID-19 symptoms and give nonprofessional face masks to the public.

Hidalgo added that some streets in Paris could be closed to cars in the immediate aftermath of the lockdown exit. These would be turned into cycle highways in a bid to keep pollution down and not further exacerbate the outbreak of the virus, which causes respiratory problems in some of those affected.

France has been under virtual lockdown since March 17. Some measures have been progressively tightened in the capital, and authorities banned Parisians from outdoor sports activity like jogging between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. local time.

Reporting by Sarah White; Editing by Sandra Maler