Paris to keep its expanded outdoor café terraces until summer 2021

The emergency measure to expand the outdoor terraces of Paris cafés to allow for more social distancing is set to be extended until the summer of 2021.

Paris to keep its expanded outdoor café terraces until summer 2021
Many cafés have expanded their outdoor seating area. Photo: AFP

When France lifted its strict lockdown in April, cafés in Paris were initially only allowed to open their outdoor terrace areas.

That restriction was later lifted, but many cafés had already been granted permission by the mayor to expand their cramped terraces – with many annexing parking spots and smaller streets to create larger spaces for their customers to spread out in.

The terraces have remained popular over the summer, with many café owners reporting that their customers feel safer and more comfortable outside in the open air.

Now Paris City Hall says it will extend the temporary permissions until June 30th 2021.

READ ALSO 'Everyone wants to be outside' – how Paris cafés are coping with the new health rules

Deputy mayor Emmanuel Grégoire said that the extension would be granted “given the extent of the crisis that is hitting the sector”.

Around 8,000 Paris cafés have been granted extensions, although they are accompanied with strict conditions, including that the extended part of the terrace must close by 10pm.

Since the end of the lockdown Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo has worked hard to adapt the landscape of the city to permit as much social distancing as possible – with the creation of more pedestrianised streets to allow for café terraces to expand and the creation of extra cycle lanes to reduce he need for people to crowd onto public transport.

The Rue de Rivoli has become a cycle-only route since the lockdown ended.

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‘Public opinion is ready’ – These French senators want to legalise marijuana

A group of 31 French senators of the Socialist, Green and Republican parties have come together to write a statement calling for the legalisation of marijuana in France.

'Public opinion is ready' - These French senators want to legalise marijuana

France is known for having some of the strictest laws regarding marijuana consumption in Europe – while simultaneously maintaining one of the highest rates of cannabis usage in the EU. 

A group of French senators – coming from the Socialist, Green and centre-right Les Républicains parties – are trying to change those laws, and have come together to call for marijuana to be legalised in France.

The group of 31 co-signed a statement published in French newspaper, Le Monde, on Wednesday, August 10th.

In the statement, the senators promised to launch a ‘consultation process’ to submit a bill to legalise marijuana “in the coming months.”

The proposition was headed by Senator Gilbert-Luc Devinaz, a member of the Socialist Party, and gained support from the party’s leader, Patrick Kanner.

READ MORE: The long and winding road towards changing France’s cannabis laws

A report by the Assemblé Nationale, which was published in May 2021, estimated that nearly 18 million French people (more than 25 percent of the population) had already consumed marijuana, and that an additional 1.5 million consume it regularly.

This, coupled with the 2019 finding that nearly one in two French people (45 percent) said they were in favour of legalisation, according to a survey by the French Observatory of Drugs and Drug Addiction (OFDT), helped strengthen the senators’ position.

“Public opinion is ready, the legislature must act,” they wrote.

Their senators argue that legalising marijuana in France will allow the authorities to better protect French citizens, saying that legalising would not require “minimising the health impacts of cannabis consumption” but rather would allow regulation similar to “public policies for tobacco, alcohol or gambling.”

For the group of 31 senators, the benefits of legalisation would involve a better control over the “health quality of products consumed,” “curbing trafficking in disadvantaged areas,” developing large-scale prevention plans,” and finally the taxation of cannabis products and redirection of law enforcement resources. Decriminalisation – in their opinion – would not be sufficient as this would simply “deprive authorities the ability to act,” in contrast to legalisation. 

READ MORE: Is France moving towards legalising cannabis for recreational purposes?

“In the long term, new tax revenues would be generated from the cannabis trade and from savings in the justice and police sectors”, which would make it possible to mobilize “significant resources for prevention as well as for rehabilitation and economic development,” wrote the senators.

In France, the conversation around cannabis has evolved in recent years – former Health Minister (and current government spokesman) Olivier Véran said to France Bleu in September 2021 that “countries that have gone towards legalisation have results better than those of France in the last ten years,” adding that he was interested in the potential therapeutic use of cannabis.

Currently, the drug is illegal in France. Previously, it fell under a 1970-law of illicit drug use, making it punishable with up to a year prison and an up to €3,750 fine.

However, in 2020, the government softened the penalties, making it possible for those caught consuming it to opt for an on-the-spot fine of €200.

There is also an ongoing trial involving 3,000 patients to test the impacts of medical marijuana usage, particularly with regard to pain relief.