PARIS—President Emmanuel Macron charted a painstaking exit from France’s coronavirus lockdown on Tuesday amid a tug of war inside his cabinet over how quickly to reopen the economy.
On one side stood Mr. Macron’s prime minister and a panoply of health authorities and epidemiologists pulling for lockdown measures to remain in place. On the other lies Mr. Macron’s economy minister, backed by an army of retailers, who considers the Christmas-shopping season a make-or-break moment.
On Tuesday, Mr. Macron weighed in with an address on national TV that sought to strike a balance between the two sides. Starting Saturday, shops can reopen under strict social-distancing rules, Mr. Macron said. If the number of new daily infections falls below 5,000, he added, the government will lift the lockdown on Dec. 15, replacing it with a 9 p.m. curfew. Christmas and New Year’s Eve will be an exception. Bars and restaurants will remain closed until at least Jan. 20.
“We need to do everything to prevent a third wave, do everything to prevent a third lockdown” Mr. Macron said.
“Spirits sometimes run low, debates grow heated,” he added. “In these times, we must not allow ourselves to get carried away.”