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Religious services resume in France as easing of restrictions continues

In the midst of gel bottles and masking tape, the faithful have been returning to churches across France, where indoor masses have been permitted for the first time since the coronavirus lockdown was put in place nearly ten weeks ago.

The reopening this week followed a high court ruling that the ban on religious ceremonies was illegal.

“It’s a truly joyful moment,” said Adèle, a churchgoer in Neuilly-Sur-Seine.

“We’ve been waiting two months, to be able to be here, to commune with the body of Christ, it’s important for me, to receive inner strength.”

In Valence, meanwhile, local councillors have returned to their debating chamber, where they held a minute’s silence for the victims of the pandemic.

It was the first opportunity for those who won local elections back in March to celebrate their victory.

“It’s like it’s back to school for us in somewhat strange conditions,” said Renaud Poutot, Valence’s councillor in charge of sports.

“We don’t have our bearings and it doesn’t look like reality. It’s like some kind of virtual reality waiting for the world to resume its course.”

A second round of elections will take place at the end of June in those constituencies where a runoff is needed.

France is one of the most heavily impacted countries by the global pandemic, with more than 180,000 confirmed cases and over 28,000 deaths.

The country entered a strict lockdown in March and began lifting restrictions on May 11.

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