Paris, May 19 (EFE).- France’s iconic cafe and restaurant terraces as well as its world-renowned museums were permitted to reopen Wednesday as the nation began to emerge from a third national Covid-19 lockdown.
Toasting the occasion with a coffee at a central Parisian cafe, President Emmanuel Macron urged the public to act with “collective responsibility” but highlighted that the coronavirus situation in the country had improved since the beginning of the year.
France entered a third lockdown in early April, closing schools and maintaining a strict curfew as the number of Covid-19 patients in ICU pushed hospitals to the brink.
The picture today is different. Around 30% of the population has received one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine and the number of daily infections, deaths and hospitalizations from the disease is trending down.
For the last few weeks, restaurants and bars have been preparing to partially reopen their iconic outdoor seating areas — a staple of life in France, particularly in the capital Paris — for the first time since the end of October, when they were ordered to close during a second lockdown. Businesses must limit the number of customers to 50% capacity.
Cinemas, theaters and museums can also reopen Wednesday with health and safety restrictions in place.
Sporting venues can welcome spectators at a third of normal capacity with up to 1,000 seated fans, a measure that will restore a much-missed crowd atmosphere at the French Open, which begins on 24 May.
The nightly curfew has been pushed back from 7pm to 9pm, allowing people to enjoy longer evenings as summer approaches.
The next stage of France’s easing of the lockdown is due to take place on 9 June, when, depending on the situation, bars and restaurants will be permitted to reopen their interiors and foreign tourists could be welcomed back in time for what would normally be the high season.EFE