French restaurants to reopen in staggered manner - Macron

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PARIS (Reuters) - French restaurants will reopen in a staggered fashion and on a regional basis, depending on the extent to which the COVID-19 epidemic is brought under control, President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday. 

  French bars and restaurants have been closed since the end of October, when France started a second month-long nationwide lockdown, and did not reopen in December when non-food shops were allowed to. 

  "I think we cannot reopen the restaurants end-May or in June in those departments where the virus still circulates a lot. Elsewhere, where (circulation) has dropped a lot, we will take a staggered approach," Macron said during a visit to a school near Paris on the first day of their reopening after a three-week closure. 

  He said that bar and restaurant open-air terraces would be allowed to reopen nationwide around mid-May with a decision to be taken in coming days. 

  But he added that a full reopening of indoor venues would depend on the health situation, possibly from early to late June in regions with low virus circulation rates. 

  "For restaurants, we know that infection rates are higher in enclosed spaces, and when people eat, sing and talk. That is what we will have to try and limit for a while," he said. 

  (Reporting by GV De Clercq and Myriam Rivet; Editing by Kirsten Donovan) 

Watch: French pupils monitor classroom air quality as schools reopen