Un café s'il vous plaît. France’s terraces reopen after 6 months

Restaurants, cafés and bars reopen their terraces today and many of France’s top politicians have already been out to enjoy a coffee and a croissant

19 May 2021

President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Jean Castex have a coffee together on a café terrace in Paris Pic: Emmanuel Macron @EmmanuelMacron / Twitter

Restaurants, cafés and bars have reopened their outdoor areas today (May 19) after over six months of closure, albeit with reduced capacity. The national curfew has also been moved back to 21:00 to allow diners to stay out longer. 

The new freedom has been welcomed by many on social media, with a new hashtag #tousenterrasse (everyone on terrace) trending this morning on Twitter.

Many people using the hashtag are posting pictures of their first café-bought coffee or croissant in months. 

The weather has been kind to people in the southeast of the country, with sunshine predicted for most of the day. 

People living around Alençon, Tours and Bourges may not be so lucky, with thunder storms predicted for this afternoon. 

President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Jean Castex had a coffee together on the terrace of a Parisian café near to the Elysée Palace. The president said people had to remain attentive, and that “we must succeed in collectively controlling the epidemic and keep up the vaccination campaign, which is continuing”. 

“We are not out of the woods yet, these are gradual steps to reopen,” he said.

"Let's get used to trying to live together in the moment.”

Other top French ministers also enjoyed the new freedom. Finance minister Bruno Le Maire had a coffee alone while reading the newspaper l’Équipe and junior minister for European Affairs Clément Beaune had a croissant and a coffee with transport minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari.

There are still rules in place for owners and customers of the restaurants, cafés and bars, which we outline below. 

  • There can be a maximum of six people per table. They must all be from the same party/group
  • There must be a minimum distance of one seat or one metre between different groups of people
  • The number of customers on the terraces must be kept to 50% of normal capacity, unless there are fewer than 10 tables outside. In this case, the 50% capacity does not need to be respected as long as there is a plexiglass shield, a windbreaker or plants between tables
  • There will only be table service, no waiting at the bar
  • Masks must be worn at all times except when you are seated at your table
  • Toilets inside the establishments will be open, but you must wear your mask when going there
  • It is the responsibility of the establishment owner to ensure that tables are spaced out correctly

Non-essential shops, cinemas, museums, theatres and other cultural spaces are also opening today. You can read more about the rules here - France deconfinement: What is opening from May 19 this week?

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