France to reopen bars and restaurants as lockdown eases

France to reopen bars and restaurants as lockdown eases
# 19 May 2021 19:05 (UTC +04:00)

Bars, shops, and cultural spaces across France are set to reopen as the country starts lifting restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of coronavirus, APA reports citing BBC.

As of Wednesday, groups of up to six people will be allowed to eat together at outdoor restaurant terraces.

France's nationwide curfew is also being pushed back from 19:00 to 21:00.

Some medical experts in the country had raised concerns about the number of new daily Covid-19 infections, which now average about 13,000.

But that figure is far lower than the peaks of more than 40,000 daily cases recorded as recently as last month.

France's vaccination campaign has also been accelerating in recent weeks, with more than 20 million people now having received at least one dose, and almost nine million having received both.

The government had set a target of vaccinating 20 million people with a first dose of the jab by mid-May.

Following months of closures, Wednesday's easing of restrictions means that along with restaurants, cafes and non-essential shops, cinemas, theatres, museums and sports venues will also be welcoming customers.

The BBC's Paris correspondent, Lucy Williamson, says people are excited about the prospect of a return of social life in France.

One woman, our correspondent adds, had organised a day off work in order to sit through three screenings at her local cinema - back to back.

As part of France's phased reopening, some restrictions for businesses will remain.

While bars and restaurants can open to the public, they will not be permitted to offer seating indoors and must not exceed more than 50% of their usual capacity.

Venues such as cinemas and theatres will have to stick to 35% capacity and a maximum of 800 people.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said the move to partially reopen businesses was a symbolic step in the country's economic recovery.

France began easing restrictions on 3 May, when a domestic travel ban was lifted, enabling people to travel further than 10km (six miles) from home again, without needing to carry a form justifying travel.

Secondary school students also went back to classes - nurseries and primary schools had reopened earlier.

Under government plans, the night-time curfew is set to be lifted completely at the end of June.

France has recorded more than 5.9 million cases of coronavirus and 108,201 Covid-related deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University data.