France announces significant lifting of restrictions

French President Emmanuel Macron has announced a number of coronavirus restrictions are being lifted.

From Monday cafes and restaurants can open across France and travel to other European countries will be allowed.

People will also be able to visit family members in retirement homes, which have been hit particularly hard by the Covid-19 outbreak.

It comes as a number of other countries in Europe re-open their borders between EU countries on Monday.

In a televised address, Mr Macron said France had won its “first victory”, but warned the virus could return.

“As soon as tomorrow we will be able to turn the page on this first chapter across all our territory,” he said.

Restaurants, hotels and caf├ęs were allowed to reopen in many parts of France earlier this month – provided distancing rules are observed.

Mr Macron confirmed that from Monday this would also happen in the Paris region, which recorded the highest number of cases in the country.

He also said that schools would reopen from 22 June – except for high schools.

However, the president added, “this does not mean that the virus has gone and that we can completely drop our guard. The summer of 2020 will be a summer unlike any other and we will need to watch the evolution of the epidemic to be prepared in case it comes back with renewed strength.”

The European Commission encouraged all internal border restrictions to be lifted from Monday; however, only a small number of nations have announced they will re-open.

Belgium, Croatia, Switzerland and Germany fully open their borders on Monday, with traffic police and officials enforcing the restrictions no longer present.

The Czech Republic is allowing unrestricted travel to and from 26 states but is still banning people from Belgium, Portugal, Sweden and the UK.

Greece has opened its borders and is allowing travellers from farther afield such as Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea to enter.

Italy already reopened its borders on 3 June as has Poland, which opened to EU travellers on 13 June. (Courtesy BBC)

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