CORONAVIRUS: Full text of French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe’s speech


French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Tuesday presented to parliament the government’s plan for gradually easing France’s strict lockdown.

“This is how we will tell the French that life will resume”, said Philippe.

1. No permission slip needed – as long as you are less than 100km from home

2. France to carry out 700,000 tests a week

3. Those who test positive must be isolated for 14 days either at home or in special accommodation

4. Masks will be made compulsory in some sectors, for example on the metro and in secondary schools

5. Everyone working from home should continue to do so

6. Crèches to reopen, but with max 10 children in each group

7. Maximum 15 pupils in each school class

8. Public gatherings of up to 10 people allowed

9. No religious ceremonies before June

10.BUT, rules may vary between départements as local authorities will get final say

11.French football, rugby seasons cannot resume till September

12.Shops to reopen

13.Bars, restaurants, cinemas and beaches remain closed

The Government would provide a lot of leeway to regional authorities to adapt the measures, in order to ensure that the final decisions would be tailored to local needs.

“We have never in our history known this kind of situation,” Philippe said as he presented a plan, which was to be debated and and voted on in the French parliament.

Philippe’s address was followed by a debate and a vote, with just 75 of the 577 lawmakers allowed into the National Assembly in line with social distancing measures.

The rest will vote by proxy.

The government’s lockdown had been key in limiting the epidemic curve avoiding the country’s hospitals becoming unable to cope with the number of patients, the PM said.

“If, as we approach May 11th, the number of daily new cases is not what we predicted, we will pay the consequences (.. and) we won’t begin to end the lockdown,” he said.

“We all want to avoid having to, after confining and the unwinding the lockdown, having to re-confine.”

‘Learn to live with the virus’

After May 11th the French public are going to have to learn to live with the virus, the PM warned.

“As long as we don’t have a vaccine, or reached collective immunity, the virus will continue to circulate among us,” the PM said, outlining that this was the “first axis” of the government’s strategy.

“We therefore need to learn to live with the virus.”

The second axis was “progressive,” in other words the government aim to gradually ease restrictions in order to continue to protect the country’s hospitals.

“Red” and “green” areas

The third key point of the government’s strategy was “geography”, said Philippe, meaning that mayors and local authorities around France would be allowed to adapt the government’s plan depending on the spread of the virus in their area.

Some départements would have to introduce stricter rules than others, the PM said.

Indicators to determine “which départements would need a stricter easing of the lockdown will be fixed on May 7th.”

On May 11th, some areas would be categorised as “red” and others as “green” depending on local testing capacities, hospital capacity and the total number of new cases over the past seven days.

‘Protect, test, isolate’

Philippe spelled out the risk that a second wave of infections could mean a second spell of confinement.

“The risk that a second wave, which will result in a second period of confinement is a serious risk, that must be taken seriously.”

The plan would need to concentrate on “protect, test, isolate.”


“We will have enough masks for everyone starting May 11th,” the PM said.

He acknowledged that “the question of mask had been a source of anger among many,” explaining that France – “like all other European countries” – had faced the challenge of stock shortages.

“The government therefore decided to set aside national stocks of masks for the country’s health workers,” he said.

France has massively increased the country’s national production, Philippe said.

“We are receiving nearly 100 million surgical masks per week,” he said.

The government would “support regional collectivities in buying masks by covering 50 percent of the price,” Philippe said.


“At the end of the lockdown (May 11th) we will be able to effectuate 700,000 tests per week,” Philippe said.

The tests would be “100 percent covered by social security,” the PM said.

All “contact points” with a contaminated person would also be identified and tested, Philippe said. That means everyone having been in touch with a COVID-19 positive person would need to take a test too and would be isolated if they tested positive.

Isolating those with the virus

Philippe said those who test positive for the virus would have to isolate themselves for 14 days, either on their own in special accommodation such as hotels or at home. If people chose to isolate with their family then the whole household will have to stay in self-isolation, the PM said.

“The main objective of isolation is to allow us to identify those carrying the virus. It’s not a punishment, it’s putting them in a safe place,” he said.

Philippe said the policy relied on “individual responsibility and each person’s conscience”.

Public transport

Starting May 11th, masks will be mandatory on all public transport. People travelling by tram, metro, RER or train would need to wear a protective facial mask, the PM said.

Public transport capacity would be increased to 70 percent of normal by May 11th and social distancing will be required “also in the metro.”

Home office

Philippe said home office would be needed to maintained in the professions where this was possible.

Restaurants, bars and cafés

The government will set a date for when the restaurants, bars and cafés could reopen at the end of May. They would not, however, open before June 2nd.


The French government has already said French schools would begin to reopen starting May 11th.

Now, Philippe said crèches would also open starting May 11th, but with an upper limit of 10 children in every group.

The government would make a decision on whether technical colleges would be able to reopen at the end of May.

As for masks in schools, Philippe said “masks will be forbidden in maternelle (nursery)” and “not recommended” in primary school due to health risks if the user did not wear the mask correctly.

Wearing masks in secondary school would however be compulsory, the PM said. Secondary school children who had “not managed to procure a mask” would be provided with masks by the government.

Religious ceremonies

The PM said religious communities would not be able to organise ceremonies “before June 2nd.”

Funerals would continue to be permitted in small gathering of up to 10 people.


The public would be able to visit the country’s graveyards after May 11th.

Parks and gardens

Will reopen on May 11th, but only in the areas that are least affected by the virus.


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