Emmanuel Macron sips coffee as France reopens cafes

Restaurants, cinemas and museums welcome the public in first stage of government’s reopening plan

Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Restaurants and cafes reopened in France on Wednesday following a six-month shutdown.

President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Jean Castex enjoyed a drink on a cafe terrace as lockdown rules, brought into place to curb the spread of Covid-19, were finally relaxed.

Cinemas, museums and theatres can reopen, while restaurants can serve customers outside in the first stage of the government’s plan.

The reopening ends the second-longest shutdown of eateries in Europe, after Poland.

The first phase of a three-part plan to reopen the country entails the nightly curfew beginning at 9pm instead of 7pm, while restaurants can seat diners at only half of their outdoor capacity – with no more than six people allowed at one table.

Cinemas can reopen at 35 per cent capacity.

France has recorded more than 108,000 deaths from Covid-19 – one of the highest rates in Europe – but is now witnessing a reduction in the infection rate and critical care admissions.

Health Minister Olivier Veran cited a steady rise in the country's vaccination rate as another driving force behind the easing of restrictions. Around 40 per cent of its adult population has had at least one dose.

The next stage of the plan is scheduled for June 9, with indoor service allowed in restaurants and the curfew beginning at 11pm.

The final step, planned for June 30, will lift all remaining social restrictions.