The French are expected to flock to restaurants, museums and cinemas when they reopen on Wednesday, but bad weather and social distancing could throw a veil over scenes of people grilling a return to semi-normality after months of Covid-19 brakes.
Cafes and restaurants with terraces or rooftop gardens have been inundated with bookings for returning alfresco dining, as part of the second phase of a lockdown lift plan that is expected to result in a full reopening of the economy on June 30.
Museums, cinemas and theaters are also reopening after being closed for more than six months, during which time they mostly relied on state aid to stay afloat.
But with the weather service forecasting showers across much of the country – possibly even snow in the Alps – and most sites being allowed to use only half of their terrace, some of the 40% of restaurants French people who have a terrace should do so. carry out a rain check when resuming operations.
A nighttime curfew that will be pushed back from two hours to 9 p.m. from Wednesday could also put a damper on the festivities, which will be limited to six people per table.
# photo1Stéphanie Mathey, owner of three Parisian bistros, told AFP that she was treating this stage of the reopening as a dress rehearsal for the summer.
“Like a diesel engine, we will heat up slowly,” she told AFP.
On June 9, restaurants will be allowed to serve indoors, followed by a further easing of measures on June 30 when the curfew is fully lifted.
– Sudden fall in cases –
Beyond having a coffee or a glass of wine on a terrace, many people are also eager to see a movie in a cinema or attend a play or an exhibition.
“We are happy to be able to welcome you again,” the world’s most visited Louvre wrote on its website, where demand was high for tickets to a Renaissance sculpture show.
Clothing stores and other non-essential stores will also reopen on Wednesday according to a schedule set by President Emmanuel Macron after a severe third wave of Covid-19 infections peaked last month.
The number of coronavirus patients in intensive care fell to 4,250 on Monday, from around 6,000 a month ago.
# photo2And the number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants in one week fell to 142, from 400 in early April.
Meanwhile, the government’s vaccination campaign has gained momentum, with more than 20 million people having received at least one vaccine.
All sites and businesses reopening on Wednesday are subject to capacity limits.
Concert halls, stadiums and other cultural venues are allowed to occupy 35% of their seats, with a limit of 800 people indoors and 1,000 outdoors.
The ultimate freedom for many people, however, will come when they can walk the streets without a mask.
Health Minister Olivier Veran said on BFM television on Monday that he expected the rule to wear masks outside to be lifted “soon”.
© 2021 AFP