French President Emmanuel Macron’s announcement of a gradual lifting of lockdown restrictions comes as a relief for millions of French people largely confined to their homes since the end of October.
Currently, the French can only leave the house for a small number of reasons, including food shopping, taking the children to school or to attend a medical appointment. They must fill out a form each time.
But this restriction is set to be lifted on December 15, Macron said on Tuesday evening. Bars and restaurants, however, will remain closed over the Christmas period.
The government’s easing of restrictions is in line with doctors who warned not to relax measures too fast. They feared a repeat of the mistakes France made as it emerged from a lockdown in the spring with no clear policy on masks and limited testing capacity.
Dr Johanthan Peterschmitt, a general practitioner in eastern France, told Euronews the focus now needs to shift away from the daily tally of new COVID-19 cases and deaths to take into the account the mental health impact of the pandemic.
“As a doctor, I see a lot of very distressed people coming into my office,” he said. “The way the government and politicians talk about the virus is making people anxious and that’s a big problem. It would be better to see what is actually happening out there in the field and not just talk about the numbers which are really scary.”