PARIS: French people will enjoy more freedom in outdoor exercises starting Saturday, and the nationwide coronavirus lockdown could be lifted on Dec. 15 if health conditions are met, President Emmanuel Macron announced Tuesday in a TV address.
"A new page will open on Saturday, Nov. 28," said Macron. Starting Saturday, outdoor exercises will be allowed for up to three hours a day, and people can go up to 20 km from their homes. Currently, people can only go out for exercise for one hour and in a radius of one km.
Starting Saturday, non-essential shops will also be allowed to reopen until 9 p.m. and under strict health conditions, Macron said.
If the objectives of current restrictive measures are reached, the nationwide coronavirus lockdown will be further lifted on Dec. 15, with cinemas, theaters and museums allowed to reopen under strict health protocols, he said.
While France could lift the nationwide coronavirus lockdown on Dec. 15, a 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew will apply to the whole country, said the president. Restaurants and sports halls will be able to reopen on Jan. 20, he added.
"We must continue our efforts," Macron said, urging people to limit "unnecessary travel" as much as possible.
Since September, coronavirus infections in France had spiraled to levels much higher than in the first wave of the pandemic, dragging the country into its second nationwide lockdown on Oct. 30.
France reported 9,155 new infections in a 24-hour span, taking the total number of cases to 2,153,815. With 458 new deaths, the accumulative fatalities reached 50,237 since the start of the pandemic.
As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, countries including France, China, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States are racing to find a vaccine.
According to the website of the World Health Organization, as of Nov. 12, there were 212 COVID-19 candidate vaccines being developed worldwide, and 48 of them were in clinical trials.