France to savour new lifting of Covid restrictions

People in France will on Wednesday be able to enjoy indoor dining and staying out until 11:00 pm for the first time in months under a new relaxation of Covid rules, as cases fall and vaccinations rise.

In a key new phase of the programme relaxing the lockdown, diners will be able to go inside cafes and restaurants, terrace consumption having already resumed on May 19.

The overnight curfew will now start later — at 11:00 pm instead of 9:00 pm — before being dropped entirely if all goes to plan on June 30.

And restrictions at cultural venues, reopened on May 19, are also being eased as a sense of normality returns to France with glorious early summer weather.

“A new step will be taken” on Wednesday, President Emmanuel Macron wrote on Twitter.

“Life will resume across our lands. It is part of our culture, of our art of living, that we are going to reacquaint ourselves with,” he said.

Tables of up to six will be permitted at cafes and restaurants while gyms can also reopen for clients indoors.

In virtually all of France however, masks however remain obligatory even out of doors until further notice.

– Vaccine campaign accelerating –

But the latest figures suggest the health situation is improving.

The numbers in intensive care are down to 2,394 compared with 6,000 in late April.

And as of Tuesday more than 28 million people had had at least one vaccine shot — nearly 43 percent of the population, and 55 percent of the adult population.

Despite the closures, France over the last half year endured less severe lockdowns than its neighbours — notably avoiding major school closures — in what was seen as a major gamble by Macron.

Its vaccine campaign got off to a wobbly start but is now seen as a success, with 700,000 jabs being given on some days.

Travel to France is also becoming easier, with France from Wednesday fully opening its borders to EU residents.

Visitors from the EU will not have to provide a negative antigen or PCR test if they have had a full course of one of the four vaccines authorised by the bloc.

Travel from other zones including the US and Britain are subject to tighter restrictions but visitors will no longer have to prove a compelling reason for a visit, so long as they have had the full course of vaccinations.

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