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IN DETAIL: France’s 4-step reopening from Covid restrictions

France is operating a phased reopening of the country's bars, cafés, restaurants, shops and cultural venues alongside a gradual extension of the curfew.

IN DETAIL: France's 4-step reopening from Covid restrictions
Café terraces reopen on May 19th. Photo: Lucas BARIOULET / AFP

France has a plan for a gradual reopening of the country from the ‘partial lockdown’ in April while cafés, bars and restaurants – which were closed since October – will open up again.

Phases 1 and 2 are complete and phase 3 is due to happen at the beginning of June.

Here are the full details of each stage:

May 3rd

The end of daytime attestations (permission forms) for journeys exceeding 10km, meaning interregional travel for non-essential reasons was again allowed.

Secondary and high schools returned to in-person classes (some in smaller groups).

May 19th

The curfew was pushed back to 9pm-6am.

Non-essential shops, museums, theatres, tourist attractions and the outdoor areas of bars, cafés and terraces reopened – all with strict limits on capacity.

Gatherings of up to 10 people are allowed in public spaces (up from six) but working from home continued to be the rule.

Spas also reopened for cures thermales – spa treatments prescribed by a doctor (yes, that is a thing in France and sometimes the State will even pay for it).

Health situation permitting, the final two stages happen in June.

June 9th

The curfew is pushed back further, to 11pm.

Bars, restaurants and cafés can reopen their indoor spaces, up to 50 percent capacity and with a maximum of six people per table. Bar service is not allowed and customers must provide their contact details if they are eating or drinking inside (but not if they are on the terraces).

Gyms reopen (with health rules and limits on the number of people allowed in at the same time).

Cultural or sporting events with up to 5,000 people will be allowed, but on the condition that participants provide a health pass proving that recently tested negative for Covid-19 or have been vaccinated for the virus.

Full details on France’s plans for a health pass HERE.

Salons and fairs can reopen with a limit of 5,000 people maximum, also with rules requiring a health pass upon entry.

Non-EU tourists will be allowed back into France, also with a valid health pass.

Rules on remote working will be relaxed so that 100 percent home-working is no longer recommended, the exact details of the return to the office should be negotiated between employers and employees.

June 30th

The curfew ends.

Events with up to 1,000 participants are allowed, both indoors and outdoors, this too on the condition that participants provide a health pass with a recent negative Covid test or vaccine certificate. This opens the door for festivals this summer, although some have already cancelled.

The limits on establishments receiving public – such as restaurants, bars, cinemas and museums – might disappear, depending on the local health situation. The government has previously said it favours a localised approach, allowing for more activities in areas with low levels of spread.

MAP: Where in France has the lowest Covid rates?

The same rule will decide the size of events allowed in each area, which will depend on the type of event and the health situation in the local area.

Member comments

  1. Do you know of hotels not allowed to open on weekends (including Friday nights) until June? I was planning to go for the end of May (half term in the UK), and we always sleepover on the way to Italy. Italy now is allowing people in from mid-May, but the place where I always stay, just contacted me and told me they are not allowed to open on weekends until later in June. Is that everywhere? And how about Airbnb for one night? Thanks for your comment!

      1. Not holiday, visiting family that I have not seen in nearly 2 years, and bringing my mum home for six months….

        1. Log on to the French tourist site for the area you want to stay in but I think you may be unlucky and have to sleep in your car.

          1. Actually hotels are open, it was only where we used to stay, that I guess is not worth for them. Still, not sure if we are going to make it. Thanks though.

  2. I am in St Tropez can I travel to Italy and back for the day to shop or are there still covid restrictions ?
    Thank you
    Andrew Wright

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Mayor of southern French town bans smoking in cars

The mayor of a town in southern France has banned smoking in cars in an attempt to limit forest fires - many of which are caused by carelessly discarded cigarette butts.

Mayor of southern French town bans smoking in cars

With France facing a hot, dry summer, some areas have already been hit by wildfires, while many others in the south of the country are on a high alert.

One of the major causes of the devastating fires is carelessly discarded cigarette butts, so the mayor of the commune of Langlade in the Gard département in south east France, has enacted a special decree banning smoking.

Smoking will be banned in a number of outdoor spaces that do not have facilities, including the town’s soccer stadium, shooting range, archery range, tennis courts – and also bans drivers from smoking in their cars. The decree is in force through the whole of the commune of Langlade.

The decree runs until July 31st and offenders risk a €15 fine – although local authorities told the Gazette de Nîmes that their main priority is raising awareness of the risk of fire from smoking, rather than handing out fines.

The Gard département has already been hit by a wildfire that destroyed several hundred acres, and firefighters have warned that the south of the country is ‘like a tinderbox’ because of the unusually early heatwave and drought that has left land parched.

READ ALSO What to do if you see a wildfire

In France smoking is banned in enclosed public spaces, but is legal in outdoor spaces such as open-air sports grounds and on the outdoor terraces of bars and cafés.

Smoking in a private vehicle is legal, as long as there are no young children in the car. Smoking while driving is not explicitly banned, but drivers can be fined if they are not in proper control of the vehicle.