France to avoid age discrimination at end of confinement

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PARIS, Apr 18 (Reuters) – France will try to avoid imposing different rules on older people and other forms of discrimination when the government begins to relax confinement due to the coronavirus, the French president’s office said.

The confinement of France to combat the outbreak, which, as in Spain, Italy and many other European countries, includes restrictions on the opening of stores and the mobility of people, will remain in force until at least May 11, as announced by the President Emmanuel Macron earlier this week.

After that date, the reopening of schools and shops is expected, although it is not yet clear at what speed France will allow some businesses such as hotels or cafes to resume activity, and if the confinement for all will be lifted at the same time.

Macron’s latest announcements have drawn criticism in recent days, after Monday said older people, considered more vulnerable to the virus, would be asked to stay longer at home.

Professor Jean-François Delfraissy, who heads the scientific council that advises the government on the epidemic, also fueled the debate after proposing that confinement continue for people aged 65-70 and older.

“The president has been following the growing debate on the situation of older citizens after May 11,” the Elysee Palace said in comments sent to Reuters on Saturday.

“It does not want there to be discrimination among citizens after May 11 in the context of a gradual relaxation of the containment measures, and it will appeal to the individual responsibility of the people.”

However, the government is likely to continue to recommend that some people stay home for their own good.

The number of deaths recorded in France from the coronavirus approached 19,000 on Friday, but most of the data provided new signs that the spread of the disease was slowing after a month of national quarantine.

(Information from Michel Rose, written by Sarah White; translated by Tomás Cobos)

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