French PM: ‘Public can holiday in France’ this summer
French prime minister Edouard Philippe has said the public “will be able to go on holiday within France” this summer, as he announced a €18billion tourism support package, in a live address.
Mr Philippe was presenting the government’s €18billion Plan Relance Tourisme, to help support the national tourism sector in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis.
He said: “The French will be able to go on holiday in France in July and August, and will be able to take up their [holiday] bookings.”
Mr Philippe said that when he referred to “France”, this included both the mainland Hexagon, and overseas France.
He remained cautious and said that this prediction would depend on how the epidemic evolves under deconfinement measures in the meantime. However he said this is only likely to mean a possibility of "very localised restrictions" in certain areas.
He sought to reassure the public that their holiday bookings would be refunded if - in the worst case scenario - they could not go ahead after all.
He said: “Everyone within tourism and hospitality is trying to make sure that people will be entirely refunded [for their bookings]” in case the progression of the epidemic means that new bookings are forced to be cancelled after all.
Mr Philippe admitted that “tourism is facing its worst test in modern history, despite it being a major jewel in the French economy”.
He confirmed that the government would offer funds in support to tourism businesses “until the end of the year 2020”.
There will be a limit of €10,000 of aid per business. More information on the support available can be found on the government website, plan-tourisme.fr.
The prime minister said he still expected that cafés and restaurants would be able to reopen in “green” departments from June 2, and that this was the government’s “objective”.
The final decision on this - which will depend on the state of the virus nationwide and how the situation is progressing under deconfinement - will be taken on May 25.
The prime minister’s comments about keeping summer holidays within France come a week after President Emmanuel Macron said it was “too early” to predict whether holidays further afield would be possible, and said that “major international travel” beyond France and Europe was likely to be limited.
He said: “We will limit major international travel, even during the summer holidays. We will stay among Europeans, and we may need to reduce it even more. There are restrictions, and that is to be expected. We have not won the battle against the virus. It is still there, we have just slowed it down.”
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