Edouard Philippe addressed this May 28 to share the phase 2 of the containment exit plan. During his address, the Prime Minister confirmed parks and gardens are to reopen everywhere in the country, including Paris and the Île-de-France region. A few minutes before the speech, Paris city hall announced the reopening of the green spaces starting this weekend.
The city of Paris and the Île-de-France region have been preparing to reopen parks and green spaces for three weeks. Pénélope Komitès, deputy mayor for green spaces, explains that "for three weeks, we have been cleaning gardens, regularly emptied out bins and used rat poison... We have also cleaned sanitary facilities. Everything is ready to give green spaces to inhabitants back."
Good news is that the number of people allowed in parks will not be limited. Moreover, the idea of a "dynamic park" has been swet away: you can sit or lie down.
Protocol set up by Paris for the city's parks and gardens
Paris first deputy mayor Emmanuel Grégoire has said that 196 parks will reopen this Saturday in Paris including nine big parks. The other 547 parks will welcome people again from June 1. "Tomorrow, we will give details as for instructions to respect for the reopening that we have been preparing for several weeks. Parks and gardens have been already cleaned up in depth during their closure" he said.
A long disagreement period between Anne Hidalgo and the government
For the record, the reopening of parks and gardens in Paris caused a lot of talks between the capital’s mayor and the government. In the JDD on May 10, Anne Hidalgo said “I keep on talking in order to get a derogatory certificate for Paris” before sharing the leads considered. “We can make measures to avoid picnics, gatherings on pitches or access to playgrounds. We can set up a maximum gauging system to limit the number of walkers. Masks will be mandatory” the socialist mayor listed.
On May 12th on Twitter, Paris mayor renewed her request to “open parks and gardens with mandatory facemasks”. A couple of hours later, Health Minister Olivier Véran answered while he was visiting a nursing home in Val-de-Marne. “No, we’re not reopening parks and gardens in Paris, in Île-de-France and all other regions in red”.
On May 19th, Anne Hidalgo let people know on Twitter she asked the government again to reopen parks and gardens in Paris. But in a letter sent to Anne Hidalgo, the AFP managed to browse on May 22, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe insisted: “Ile-de-France was globally listed in this category (red, editor’s note). At this point, we’re not considering the opening of parks and gardens”.
Still according to the Prime Minister, three conditions could change things: “favorable evolution of the health situation”, setting up “detailed bill of specifications” and an “even” implementation of containment exit rules in Ile-de-France inviting then Anne Hidalgo and Paris mayors to start “concerting” with the police and regional prefectures.
Ultimately, after three weeks of debate, Paris parks and gardens are finally reopening on June 2.
The Respire association filed a liberty injunction
In order to get parks and gardens open again in red areas, the Respire association filed a liberty injunction in front of the State Council. They mandated Paris Bar lawyer Pierre-Eugène Burghardt to represent them in this process.
The current ban to access parks, gardens, and other green spaces in red areas “is totally counter-productive and we can all assess that” Respire chairman Olivier Blond said. “Because they have no access to public spaces, people are gathering up as they can on sidewalks or roadsides. They don’t respect social distancing and are exposed to a growing risk of transmitting Covid-19. The situation is absurd” he added.
As the Bois de Boulogne and Vincennes woods, and the Parc de la Courneuve are open, the association considered the government could also regulate the access to parks and public gardens by setting up time slots depending on categories of people or banning some activities such as picnics.
As Respire recalled, the ban involved mental health, and respiratory health. “There’s a genuine health emergency that Ile-de-France inhabitants can access parks and public gardens as many of them have been living since March 16th in narrow and sometimes unsanitary houses” Olivier Blond said.
“This ban hits the poorest citizens more as they live in narrow places without an access to some greens, they have not the means to go for three months in their secondary residences. It is scandalous that such unfairness of treatment exists, and it must be solved quickly” he went on.