PARIS – President Emmanuel Macron said Thursday that the outdoor terraces of France's cafes and restaurants will be allowed to reopen on May 19 along with museums, cinemas, theaters and concert halls under certain conditions.
In an interview with regional newspapers, Macron outlined a four-step plan to reopen the country and revive its economy. The French government is slowly starting to lift partial lockdowns, despite still high numbers of coronavirus cases and hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
Reopening nurseries and primary schools this week was a priority, the president said.
“We have taken on the responsibility of the priority on education and the strategy of living with the virus, including with high numbers of infections, higher than those of our neighbors,” Macron said.
Students will go back to secondary and high schools next week, and a domestic travel ban will end, he confirmed. A 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew will remain in place.
Restaurants and cafes will be able to serve customers outdoors at tables seating a maximum of six people starting May 19, when the nightly curfew will be pushed back to 9 p.m. Non-essential shops also reopen, as well as cultural sites and sport facilities, which will have occupancy limits of 800 people indoors and 1,000 outdoors.
French authorities are anticipating the COVID-19 outlook in the country to be better next month, when a greater proportion of the population will be vaccinated.
The government's plan provides for permitting foreign tourists back into France on June 9 as long as they hold a “sanitary pass” with proof of a COVID-19 vaccine or a negative PCR test.
On that same day, cafes and restaurants will be allowed to resume regular service until an 11 p.m. curfew. Events of up to 5,000 people will be allowed.
The final stage of the plan will see the end of the nighttime curfew and the lifting of most restrictions on June 30, although nightclubs will remain closed.
France is reporting about 29,000 new confirmed cases each day, down from about 40,000 earlier this month. Over 5,800 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized in French intensive care units, a slight decrease from previous days. France has reported almost 104,000 virus-related deaths in the pandemic. COVID-19 deaths.
Follow AP’s pandemic coverage: