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Covid-19: France's restaurants can reopen from June 2

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe unveils plans for second phase of deconfinement.

Cafes and restaurants can reopen and more pupils will be able to return to school from June 2, as France's strict coronavirus lockdown restrictions are further eased, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has announced.

But he warned that the risk of coronavirus remains high, despite France recording fewer than 100 Covid-19 deaths for seven straight days.

"This freedom implies constraints, the limitation of groupings to 10 people in public spaces must be maintained," Mr Philippe said as he, with Health Minister Olivier Véran and Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer alongside him, unveiled plans for "phase 2" of the lifting of the lockdown that entered into force on March 17.

"We will continue to limit the forms of social life that are the most conducive to the transmission of the virus: contact sports, nightclubs, large groupings of people," he said.

The rate of spread of the virus is at this stage "under control," said Mr Philippe. "This means that we are where we hoped to be at the end of May and even a little better than we had hoped to be. This is good news. Things are looking good, but not good enough to return everything back to normal."

Three weeks after France began to loosen its lockdown rules, Mr Philippe said he was 'cautiously optimistic' the country could avoid a second wave of the disease.

"Today all the indicators [for virus transmission] are green except in two departments: Val d'Oise and Mayotte", he said, but added this, "does not mean that the virus is no longer circulating."

"We need to remain very vigilant," he said, but insisted that "freedom will, finally, be the rule and restriction the exception."

He said that a smartphone app, StopCovid, would available from June 2. "I invite everyone watching and our fellow citizens to use this application," he said.

All primary schools will be allowed to reopen from Tuesday, and the government will accelerate the opening of collèges and lycées. Class sizes will be restricted to 15, but pupils - from sixième (11) to troisième (14) - will be able to return to college from June 2 in most parts of France, while those in areas that have remained confined due to higher levels of coronavirus will see pupils in sixième and cinquième return.

However, the French bac oral exam, due to be taken by première students this summer, has been cancelled, Mr Blanquer announced.

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