FRANCE is due to begin easing its coronavirus lockdown measures on Monday after suffering almost 26,000 deaths and widespread violence.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe detailed the plan to begin a “gradual” and “targeted” easing of measures on May 11.
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The prime minister said the beginning of a “progressive” exit from the coronavirus lockdown will begin on Monday.
It ends two months of strict confinement for France’s population of 67million.
The new measures include anyone caught travelling on public transport without a mask given a fine of €135 (£120) and the reopening of primary schools and some businesses nationwide.
The PM said: “Monday will mark the start of a very gradual process stretching over several weeks at least, which will allow the country to emerge slowly but steadily from the lockdown.”
He added the government is attempting to “strike the right balance” between the need to get the economy moving and public safety.
France is using a colour coding system, with red and green zones showing the relative spread of the virus across the country.
This will be revised, the Mr Philippe said France remains “cut in two, with the virus circulating more quickly in some regions”.
He added: “Some areas are still seeing an active circulation of the virus or a lot of pressure on hospitals. Those are classified as red areas.
“We will be ending the lockdown there, but some restrictions will remain in place: middle schools will remain closed, and so will parks and public gardens.”
It comes as France has the fifth highest coronavirus death toll in the world, sitting at 25,809 fatalities with 174,191 confirmed cases.
Rioting and unrest had also erupted during the lockdown, with reports of gangs fighting police in Paris, Bordeaux, Lyon, Strasbourg, and Toulouse.
Mr Philippe urged the public to remain “especially vigilant” in red zones such as Paris – admitting the case total for the capital is “higher than we had hoped for”.
Calais, Strasbourg and Dijon will also remain classified as red zones due to high levels of infection.
Elderly and vulnerable people will no longer be confined to their homes after Monday.
And he said secondary schools, cafes and restaurants may open in green zones from early June if infection rates remains low in.
He said: “We trust people who know they are vulnerable to do what is necessary to stay safe.”
Meanwhile, transport minister Elisabeth Borne confirmed wearing a mask will be compulsory on public transport for travelers aged 11 and over, with anyone who disobeys risking a fine.
She also said there will also be a €135 fine for anyone caught travelling more than 62 miles from their home, and these figures will rise for repeat offenders.
French courts have issued at least €171million in fines since the full lockdown was rolled out on March 17.
Across the English Channel, Britain extended its lockdown by another three weeks as the death toll rose this week to be the highest in Europe at over 30,000.
First Minister Dominic Raab confirmed the news that there is “no change” at tonight’s No10 press conference as the virus is still “deadly and infectious”.
The PM will address the nation at the weekend and is expected to relax some small measures, but the lockdown will carry on in most forms.
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It comes as many nations in Europe have begun to ease their lockdowns amid the ongoing pandemic.
Fears continue to loom of the threat of a second wave of coronavirus infections that may be even deadlier than the first outbreak.
Scientists are confident the only way the world will return to a pre-pandemic normal is when a vaccine is developed, and that could not be here until 2021.