April 20, 2020 / 5:36 PM / 2 months ago

France to shun discrimination by age in lockdown exit

A woman, wearing a protective face mask, walks her dog in Paris as the spread of the coronavirus disease continues in France, April 20, 2020. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

PARIS (Reuters) - France will look to avoid setting different rules for older people and other forms of discrimination once the government starts easing its coronavirus confinement measures, the French President’s office said.

France’s lockdown to combat the outbreak, which like in Spain, Italy and many other European countries includes restrictions on store openings and people’s movements, will remain in place until at least May 11, President Emmanuel Macron said earlier this week.

After that, schools and shops are set to reopen, though it is still unclear at what speed France will allow some businesses like hotels or cafes to restart, and whether it plans to lift home confinement recommendations for everyone at the same time.

Speculation had grown in recent days over whether older people, who are considered more vulnerable to the deadly virus, would be told to stay at home for longer.

Comments this week in France’s Senate by Professor Jean-François Delfraissy - who heads the scientific council advising the government on the epidemic - in particular sparked a backlash, after he said that for people aged 65 or 70, the confinement order could continue.

“The President has followed the growing debate about the situation for elderly citizens after May 11,” the Elysee palace said in comments sent to Reuters on Saturday.

“He does not want there to be any discrimination among citizens after May 11 in the context of a gradual easing of confinement measures, and will appeal to people’s individual responsibility.”

France’s registered death toll from coronavirus infections neared 19,000 on Friday, but most data provided further indications that the spread of the disease was slowing after the one-month-old national lockdown.

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