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Cafe culture returns with France open for business

Bon appétit: Friends enjoy lunch inside a Parisian restaurant yesterday PIC: AFP

FRANCE was toasting a new sense of liberty yesterday after president Emmanuel Macron lifted more of the country’s lockdown.

Cafes and restaurants across the country were welcoming customers back in from their terraces, while borders were reopened to the whole EU — except the UK and Spain.

Families were also allowed to visit relatives in retirement homes.

On Sunday night Mr Macron praised the ‘admirable sense of responsibility’ of the French people. Announcing a further easing of restrictions, which for the first time included Paris, he said: ‘Tens of thousands of lives have been saved by our choices… we can be proud of what we have achieved.’

The president spoke of a ‘first victory’ over Covid-19 and a ‘new era’, but was quick to remind people not to ignore the social distancing rules first put in place on March 17. ‘This does not mean the virus has gone and we can completely drop our guard,’ he said.

‘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.’

Mr Macron vowed not to raise taxes to combat the effects of the virus on the French economy. Instead he would lead a ‘strong, ecological, sovereign and united’ revival with the help of the nearly £450billion France had ‘mobilised’ in response to the crisis.

France reported 29 new coronavirus deaths yesterday, taking its total to 29,436, and marking the sixth day with fewer than 30 fatalities.

It now has 10,752 people in hospital, including 846 in intensive care units. Britain has 5,507 people in hospital, with 395 occupying ventilator beds.