The government’s spokesman, Gabriel Attal, took to the pages of the Sunday newspaper Journal de Dimanche to lay out the general plan for a slow loosening of lockdown in France.

The first stage will be on December 1, although it might be brought forward to November 28, and this will allow non-essential shops and services to reopen, but with more stringent social distancing in place. Eight square metres per client will involve more restrictions in larger commercial spaces, and for small businesses there will be some “tolerance,” Attal said.

Bars and restaurants will not reopen, and the prospects for the hospitality sector look bleak until into 2021. No date has yet been set for their reopening.

Although deaths and hospitalisations are slowly falling, the virus is circulating as widely as it was when the second lockdown started.

If all goes well, there will be a second stage of “deconfinment” before Christmas, when restrictions on personal movement may be relaxed, but not cancelled. Otherwise there are no details.

A TV address by President Macron, due on Tuesday, November 24, may add more meat to the government’s plans.

Meanwhile, France has signed three contracts to buy vaccines, with “at least three more under discussion” and with 30 million doses per contract, Attal said.

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FILE PHOTO: President Macron Reuters