French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Thursday said France was moving to phase two of relaxing its lockdown and the greater Paris region was no longer deemed to be a "red" coronavirus hot-spot zone.
Philippe told France's 67 million people that danger still lurked and the government would pay particular attention to public health indicators in Paris and its surrounding area as the restrictions are relaxed.
"Freedom will become the rule, bans the exception," Philippe said in a televised address.
Philippe also unveiled steps to further relax restrictions. As he announced, France's beaches will reopen from June 2.
A ban on anyone traveling more than 100 km (62 miles) from their homes, except in special cases, will be lifted from June 2.
Cafes, bars and restaurants will reopen across France from June 2. Customers must be kept at least 1 meter apart, and in areas of the country designated as higher-risk "orange zones," only the outdoor areas of cafes, bars and restaurants will be allowed to reopen.
Parks and public gardens in Paris, until now deemed to be in a COVID-19 "red zone," will reopen from June 2.
Major sports activities in France are to remain suspended until June 21.
A plan to reopen high schools and junior high schools across France will accelerate. Primary schools have reopened in most places, but high schools have lagged behind.
A smartphone app that will allow the health authorities to identify if someone has been exposed to a COVID-19 carrier, and notify them, will be available from June 2. The rollout of the app was approved by the French parliament on Wednesday, despite concerns about privacy expressed by some lawmakers.
The coronavirus has claimed the lives of more than 28,500 people in France, but on Wednesday the death toll rose by less than 100 for the seventh day running.
Philippe said the greater Paris region was now designated an "orange" zone, meaning Paris was not as free of the virus as almost all other regions designated "green," and the easing of restrictions would be more prudent.
"Results are good from a health point of view, even if we remain cautious," the prime minister said.
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