All adults in France eligible for Covid-19 vaccinations from May 31 as Louvre and Eiffel Tower reopen

The inoculations will be made available a week earlier to people in 'priority professions'

File photo: A nurse administers the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in La Baule, France, February 17, 2021. Reuters
File photo: A nurse administers the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in La Baule, France, February 17, 2021. Reuters

All adults in France will be eligible for Covid-19 vaccinations starting May 31, two weeks earlier than initially planned, Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Thursday.

The inoculations would be made available a week earlier, on May 24, to people in "priority professions", including teachers, police, bus drivers, taxi drivers, prison officers, checkout workers, cleaners and staff in hotels and restaurants.

Mr Castex spoke during a visit to a vaccination centre in the high-density Paris suburb of Seine-Saint-Denis, saying President Emmanuel Macron had given orders to accelerate the campaign.

So far, 21.5 million people have received at least one shot of a vaccine, representing about a third of the population.

Mr Castex said France was in a position to increase the campaign as it "will receive a lot of doses between now and the end of June, so we must have the highest level of vaccination possible".

Until now, the vaccinations had been limited to the over-50s but all adults are allowed to book an unused slot advertised on the same day or the next day.

The Eiffel Tower will open on July 16 after months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Paris landmark's operator said on Thursday.

Visitor numbers will be limited to 10,000 a day to meet social distancing requirements, fewer than half of their pre-Covid levels, operator Sete told AFP.

All floors of the monument will be accessible to visitors, except some areas where renovation work is continuing.

The Eiffel Tower has been undergoing the most extensive revamp of its 130-year history, including with a paint job to give it a distinctly golden hue, to look its best for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

But painting was suspended after traces of lead were found in existing layers, making it hazardous to continue.

The reopening marks the emergence of the 10-tonne metal landmark from its longest closure since the Second World War.

It was shut down for more than three months during the first Covid wave in spring last year, and again in autumn.

"After several months of closure, we are impatient to have our staff and visitors back with, of course, a strict compliance with sanitary protocols," Sete president Jean-Francois Martins said.

Online bookings will open on June 1.

The monument, completed in 1889, usually receives about seven million visitors every year, about three quarters of them from abroad.

And visitors to the Louvre can also once again view the Mona Lisa in person.

More than six months after being forced to close its doors due to the pandemic, the most famous museum in Paris has reopened.

Health protocols are still in effect. Masks are obligatory, as are sanitising hands on entry and there can be no more than one visitor for every eight square metres.

For the Louvre that means it can only welcome 30 per cent of its pre-pandemic admissions for now, although officials say the current exhibit on Italian Renaissance sculpture is already mostly booked up for this week.

Disneyland Paris, another tourist magnet, said on Monday that it would reopen on June 17.

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Updated: May 21, 2021 02:38 AM


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