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Facemasks, tennis, new PM: What’s happening in France this week?

This week sees the end of obligatory facemasks on public transport, the start of the Roland-Garros tournament and a change of prime minister

We look at events that the week ahead will bring in France Pic: Victor Joly / rarrarorro / DimaBerlin / taniavolobueva / Shutterstock

[Update May 16 at 15:45 - Jean Castex is expected to formally announce his resignation as prime minister around 16:00 today]

We look at events occurring in France this week.

Facemasks become optional on public transport 

From today (Monday, May 16), it will no longer be mandatory to wear face masks on public transports in France, although it remains “recommended”. 

The rule relaxation applies to buses, boats, trains, métro services, planes and taxis.

Read more: Mask requirement on public transport in France to end on May 16

People are still required, however, to wear a facemask in hospital and care home environments, where they must continue to present a health pass. 

Covid case numbers continue to improve in France, with 22,844 new infections being recorded yesterday (May 15), 22.1% fewer than there were last Sunday. 

Jean Castex to tender his resignation 

Prime Minister Jean Castex is due to send a “very simple, very classical” letter of resignation to President Emmanuel Macron today (May 16).

Read more: Lost glasses, Mr Lockdown: Memorable moments of French PM Jean Castex

Mr Castex has told Le Parisien that he is leaving his role “without remorse or regret”, as the reelected president plans a reshuffle of his ministers. 

“I can be seen as someone who never schemed to get here, and even less someone who used my functions for the benefit of my future career. So I am not asking for anything, no ministerial position,” he added. 

He has also said that he is eager to “return to my Pyrenees. I need to repaint my shutters and my guardrail, which has taken a beating over the last two years!”

President Macron is then expected to name his new prime minister and government imminently, perhaps later today.

There has been considerable speculation over who President Macron will appoint as his next prime minister, with suggestions that he may opt for a woman, perhaps the current Labour Minister Élisabeth Borne. Valérie Létard, vice president of the French Sénat, has also been named as a potential successor to Mr Castex by La Dépêche.

Read more: Will France’s next PM be a woman? If so, she will not be the first

The new prime minister will have to lead the majority party in government, which could change during this year’s legislative elections on June 12 and 19.

He or she will need to be willing to ‘get their hands dirty’ and President Macron has said that he wants to appoint “someone who is committed to social [and] ecological issues.” 

The French Open begins today 

Today marks the beginning of the Roland-Garros tennis tournament qualifiers, with 128 male and 128 female players taking to the courts to compete for a place in the second week. 

These players – who include Fernando Verdasco and former Roland-Garros finalist Sara Errani – mostly occupy places 100-230 in the ATP and WTA rankings, while 18 of them have been invited to play as wild cards. 

All qualifying matches will be played over the best of three sets, and players will need to make it through three days of eliminations to get through to next week.

The official starting date of the French Open is Sunday, May 22. From that moment onwards, each game will be played over the best of five sets.

Even those who are knocked out in this first round will win €14,000 in prize money, with those making it to the second round winning €20,000 and those getting to the third €31,000.

Those who make it through to the second week will begin on €62,000 in prize money, slightly more than last year.

There are 17 male and 10 female players representing France in this qualifying week, including Arthur Cazaux, who was a wild card entry last year, Luca Van Assche and Arthur Fils, the winner and finalist from the 2021 junior competition.

Russian and Belarusian players will be allowed to play in the tournament, it has been confirmed, as long as they play under strict neutrality. 

If they express any support for Vladimir Putin’s government and actions in Ukraine, they will be sanctioned.

Read more: Wimbledon ban on Russian tennis stars is wrong; France has alternative

These players – who include Daniil Medvedev, the Russian number two – have however, been excluded from one of the other major tennis championships, Wimbledon.

The opening of the Cannes Film Festival 

Tomorrow (May 17) will see the opening of the 75th Festival de Cannes.

This is the first year that the festival will return as ‘normal’ since the Covid pandemic began, after it was cancelled in 2020 and scaled back in 2021. However, Cannes is still marked by external, international events, as Russian people with links to Mr Putin’s government will not be allowed to attend.

The festival will begin with the premiere of Michel Hazanavicius’ new zombie movie, Final Cut, whose name has been changed from Z after the director was informed that this letter has become a symbol for the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

Some of the most anticipated films at this year’s event include Elvis, The Stars at Noon, The Silent Twins and Hunt, which is directed and produced by Lee Jung-jae, one of the stars of the global sensation Squid Game

Paper tax declaration deadline extended 

Note that this week should have also seen the deadline for the submission of paper income tax declarations, which had been set for Thursday (May 19).

However, this has now been extended to May 31, due to delays in sending out some people’s forms.

Read more: France’s deadline for paper income declarations extended to end of May

Just under 5% of people in France will be concerned by this change, as the deadlines for online declarations remain unchanged. 

Related articles 

How do French tax declarations work with revenue from Leboncoin?

How can Mélenchon become French prime minister and how would it work?

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