France lifts most COVID-19 restrictions
PARIS – France lifted most COVID-19 restrictions on Monday, eliminating the need to wear face masks in most environments and allowing unvaccinated people back to restaurants, sports venues and other venues.
The move had been announced earlier this month by the French government based on assessments of the improved situation in hospitals and after weeks of a steady drop in infections. It happens less than a month before the first round of the presidential election, scheduled for April 10.
But in recent days, the number of new infections has begun to rise again, raising concerns among some scientists that it may be too early to lift restrictions. The number of new infections has reached more than 60,000 based on a seven-day average, up from about 50,000 a week before.
From Monday, people are no longer required to show proof of vaccination to enter places such as restaurants and bars, cinemas, theaters, trade fairs and to use interregional transport. The so-called vaccine passport had entered into force at the end of January.
A restaurant owner in Paris, Laurent Negre, praised a “back to normal.”
“We got used to these restrictions and complicated protocols, so we want to enjoy the work more now … So that’s good news,” he said.
Parisian Bartholome Laisi, 23, said “it is a good thing because people will be able to have more freedom of movement. But we must be careful and monitor it to avoid another (virus) wave right after.”
In hospitals and nursing homes, unvaccinated people must present a recent negative test or evidence of recent recovery to enter.
Jocelyne Muller, who lives near Paris, was still wearing her mask in the streets of the French capital on Monday when she was just about to get off the suburban train.
“It’s a relief” to be able to remove it, “even if the mask doesn’t bother me much,” she said. “Now we just hope it will bring people back to the cinemas, theaters and all the artistic places.”
More than 92% of people aged 12 and over are fully vaccinated in France, which has a population of 67 million.
Oleg Cetinic contributed to the story.
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