PARIS (Reuters) – France is likely to unwind its nationwide coronavirus lockdown gradually rather than in one go, the prime minister told parliament on Wednesday.
The French government has ordered people to stay confined in their homes except for essential outings from March 17 until at least April 15.
“It is likely that we are not heading towards a general de-confinement in one go and for everyone,” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told parliament by videoconference.
He did not indicate when the government might start to ease or lift the lockdown.
The government also reminded Parisians that trying to escape the city for a holiday – as the school break begins next week – did not constitute essential travel and that controls would be reinforced “with utmost firmness”.
“Without a valid reason, travellers will be fined for not respecting the confinement rules and will not be allowed to continue their journey or to take their train or plane,” the Paris Prefecture said in a statement on its Twitter feed.
(Reporting by Elizabeth Pineau and Jean-Stephane Brosse; Writing by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Catherine Evans and Mark Potter)