COVID: France to reopen bars and cafes as lockdown eases
Tables are set on a terrace of a cafe during preparations for the reopening of restaurants and bars in Paris as part of an easing of the country's lockdown restrictions amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in France.
Parisians will return to their beloved café terraces and museums Wednesday after a six-month Covid-forced hiatus, a glimmer of normal life.
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.
With infection numbers beginning to improve and a vaccination campaign gaining momentum, retail businesses and their customers are desperate to regain a semblance of normality.
Even if the French return in droves to cafes and neighbourhood stores as their owners hope, many retail outlets remain wary about the lingering impact of the crisis.
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.
Under government plans, the night-time curfew is set to be lifted completely at the end of June.
Secondary school students also went back to classes - nurseries and primary schools had reopened earlier.
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.