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Calendar: When shops, bars, museums and others can reopen in France

Calendar: When shops, bars, museums and others can reopen in France
Terraces will be among the first places to reopen in France, according to the French government's tentative plan. Photo: Martin BUREAU / AFP
As the French government prepares to gradually reopen France's closed sectors, these are the dates to look out for.

France’s ‘partial lockdown’ measures are set to be lifted, at least in part, in May, as Emmanuel Macron said when he announced the new lockdown on March 31st.

Prime Minister Jean Castex on Thursday revealed some dates for reopening, while other confirmed dates will follow ‘in the coming days’. Here’s what we know so far:

April 24th

A strict quarantine and testing protocol will be fully enforced for all arrivals from India, South Africa, Chile, Brazil and Argentina. 

  • Anyone travelling from these five countries must get either a PCR test 36 hours before travel OR a PCR test 72 hours before travel followed by a rapid-result antigen test 24 hours before travel
  • All arrivals from those countries then take another antigen test on arrival in France, and confirm to border guards that they will observe a 10-day quarantine, providing an address where they will be quarantining
  • Police will then check the address provided during the 10 days to ensure the quarantine is being enforced
  • Essential errands may be done only between 10am and 12 noon, anyone not at the address provided outside those hours will be deemed in breach of quarantine and fined
  • Fines range from €1,000 to €1,500

April 26th

The adjusted school holiday period ends. Primary schools, maternelles and crèches reopen after a one-week distance learning period followed by two weeks of rescheduled Easter holidays. Secondary and high schools begin an extra week of distance learning.

May 3rd

Secondary and high schools return to in-person classes.

The government scraps the 10km rule, meaning longer journeys without an attestation (permission form) will be allowed. 

Castex sais: “We want to begin (easing lockdown) around mid-May. But due to the fragile health situation, it needs to be done gradually.

He said the reopening “could start with café and bar terraces, certain sporting and cultural activities and certain shops. The list is not final, and it could be done through a regionalised framework.”

Some time between May 13th and 17th

According the media sources, these are dates when the government plans to reopen some terraces of bars and restaurants. Last year, the progressive reopening of eateries started with their outdoor spaces, and a similar plan was envisaged this time as the virus spreads less outside.

It’s possible this could be done only in areas with lower rates of the virus, health minister Olivier Véran has said that he favours an area-by-area approach to reopening, which could see the return of the ‘red zones’ and ‘green zones’ seen in summer 2020.

‘Mid-May’

Cultural spaces may begin to reopen. That includes museums, cinemas, theatres, tourist sites and similar establishments. Again, this could be done on a regional basis, with AFP reporting that entry limits could vary between regions, depending on the spread of the virus in the area.

MAP: Where in France has the lowest Covid rates?

Non-essential shops could also reopen from mid May, again according to media leaks. Shops deemed non-essential have been closed across France since April 3rd, the cause of much anger among business owners.

No date

Curfew – It has been widely leaked that the government intends to relax the 7pm curfew, but not necessarily scrap it. AFP reports that “the most cautious in the government would like to postpone it to 8pm,” while others called for moving it “to 11pm from mid-May”.

Universities – students can go into university one day a week in May, Macron said, but so far there were no reports on fixed reopening dates for higher education establishments.

Gyms, pools and sports halls – no dates were yet reported as to when these places may reopen.

Salons, fairs and large public events – big public gatherings, especially those indoors, will likely be among the last to reopen, although the culture minister, Roselyne Bachelot, laid out a plan for “experimental concerts” earlier this spring before she was hospitalised for Covid. If successful, these experiments might become a model for other larger events. 

Nightclubs – discos and nightclubs have received no dates regarding when they will be able to get back into business and have been closed since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

IN PICTURES: French nightclub workers stage protest over closures

International travel – apart from the quarantine mentioned above for five countries, no changes have been announced to travel rules. Travel from most non-EU countries remains heavily restricted, although Macron has said that he hopes that Americans will be able to travel to France this summer. Travel from within the EU is allowed for any reason, as well as seven non-EU countries including the UK, Australia and New Zealand. The 10km rule has in effect ruled out holidays or visits from second-home owners, but if that is lifted travel for tourism will again be possible – depending on the rules of the visitor’s country of origin. 


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