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France to lift domestic travel restrictions from May 3, says Prime Minister Jean Castex

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French Prime Minister Jean Castex
French Prime Minister Jean Castex   -   Copyright  Credit: AP
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France will lift domestic travel restrictions from May 3, Prime Minister Jean Castex told reporters on Thursday.

Current restrictions limit people's travel to a 10-kilometre radius of their homes.

The announcement came as authorities said France's health situation was "improving".

"The peak of the third wave of the pandemic seems to be behind us," said Castex, with "a genuine drop in viral circulation in the past ten days".

However, intensive care units remained crowded with a total of 5,981 patients on Thursday compared to 5,959 on Wednesday, according to data released by the French Public Health Agency.

Non-essential businesses, cultural activities, sports and terraces could reopen "around mid-May" if the health situation permits, said Castex.

The reopening may take place on a regional rather than national basis, starting with those areas with lower virus prevalence, the prime minister added.

An estimated 150,000 shops have been closed since April 3 as the government imposed a third partial lockdown amid soaring infection numbers.

The current lockdown has been considerably more relaxed than previous ones, with outdoor activities encouraged to promote mental health.

Most non-essential shops have been closed, however, along with cafes, restaurants and also cultural venues, with players in many sectors piling pressure on the government for a reopening after months of closure.

A nationwide 7 pm curfew will remain in place until further notice, Castex told reporters.

Kindergartens and primary schools will reopen as planned on April 26, Castex confirmed, while high schools students will need to wait until May 3.