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

As the French government prepares to gradually reopen France's closed sectors, these are the dates to look out for.

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

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.


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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WHO says European festivals should go ahead despite monkeypox risk

Most new cases of monkeypox are currently detected in Western Europe. The World Health Organisation says this is no reason to cancel more than 800 festivals scheduled to take place on the continent this summer.

WHO says European festivals should go ahead despite monkeypox risk

The World Health Organization said Friday that European summer festivals should not be cancelled due to the monkeypox outbreak but should instead manage the risk of amplifying the virus.

A surge of monkeypox cases has been detected since May outside of the West and Central African countries where the disease has long been endemic.

Most of the new cases have been in Western Europe.

More than 3,200 confirmed cases and one death have now been reported to the WHO from 48 countries in total this year.

“We have all the summer festivals, concerts and many other events just starting in the northern hemisphere,” Amaia Artazcoz, the WHO’s mass gatherings technical officer, told a webinar entitled “Monkeypox outbreak and mass gatherings: Protecting yourself at festivals and parties”.

The events “may represent a conducive environment for transmission”, she said.

“These gatherings have really close proximity and usually for a prolonged period of time, and also a lot of frequent interactions among people,” Artazcoz explained.

“Nevertheless… we are not recommending postponing or cancelling any of the events in the areas where monkeypox cases have been identified.”

Sarah Tyler, the senior communications consultant on health emergencies at WHO Europe, said there were going to be more than 800 festivals in the region, bringing together hundreds of thousands of people from different countries.

“Most attendees are highly mobile and sexually active and a number of them will have intimate skin-to-skin contact at or around these events,” she said.

“Some may also have multiple sexual contacts, including new or anonymous partners. Without action, we risk seeing a surge in monkeypox cases in Europe this summer.”

Risk awareness

The UN health agency recommends that countries identify events most likely to be associated with the risk of monkeypox transmission.

The WHO urged festival organisers to raise awareness through effective communication, detect cases early, stop transmission and protect people at risk.

The outbreak in newly-affected countries is primarily among men who have sex with men, and who have reported recent sex with new or multiple partners, according to the WHO.

People with symptoms are advised to avoid attending gatherings, while people in communities among whom monkeypox has been found to occur more frequently than in the general population should exercise particular caution, it says.

The normal initial symptoms of monkeypox include a high fever, swollen lymph nodes and a blistery chickenpox-like rash.

Meg Doherty, from the global HIV, hepatitis and sexually-transmitted infection programmes at WHO, said: “We are not calling this a sexually-transmitted infection.

“Stigmatising never helps in a disease outbreak,” she added.

“This is not a gay disease. However, we want people to be aware of what the risks are.”