The next stage of France’s gradual lifting of Covid restrictions will take place as planned tomorrow (February 16), government spokesperson Gabriel Attal has announced.
It means that standing will once again be allowed for customers in bars and nightclubs will reopen.
Hospitality “has been the sector worst affected” by the pandemic, Mr Attal said. “And I know that they want to work for their passion and not survive off government support. It is therefore very good news for them that they can reopen, for good I hope.”
The rule relaxation also means that people will be allowed to consume food and drinks in stadiums, cinemas and public transport as normal.
These changes come alongside a planned easing of rules concerning children in schools, where the Covid protocol will move from alert level 3 to 2, and the removal of mask-wearing requirements in venues where vaccine passes are required.
School pupils will also be allowed to stop wearing masks in outdoor areas, and Mr Attal said that “as soon as [the government]” judged it to be prudent, masks would also cease to be obligatory indoors. “I hope that this progress can be made quickly.
“The epidemic is clearly in decline,” Mr Attal said, adding that the average daily number of Covid cases has nearly halved over the past 10 days and that the country’s infection rate has fallen by 45% when compared to this time last week. It is now at the same level as at the end of December.
“Even though the situation remains extremely pressurised” in hospitals, the number of new admissions is down by about 25% and the total number of patients with Covid has also begun to fall – by 6% – over the last seven days.
However, “this decline still needs to be confirmed: it remains fragile,” Mr Attal said, adding that the situation in hospitals remains far from ‘normal’.
Mr Attal also stated that tomorrow’s rule relaxation has been enabled by France’s strong vaccination coverage, adding that some 38 million people – nearly 70% of the adult population – have now received their booster dose.
When asked when he expected the vaccine pass to be removed, he said that he could not provide any further information on suggestions that the system could be suspended by March or April, but stressed that this decision must only be taken “when hospital pressure has eased sufficiently” and operations have stopped being postponed.
“We have always had a methodical, proportionate calendar in mind, which allows us to ease restrictions for good, or at least for as long as possible,” he added.