What changes in France on Wednesday as phase 2 of reopening begins?

What changes in France on Wednesday as phase 2 of reopening begins?
Cafés are preparing to reopen. Photo: Ludovic Marin/AFP
Wednesday marks the second stage in France's phased reopening process, with big changes including the return of café terraces and a relaxation of the curfew.

After the end of domestic travel restrictions and the scrapping of the attestation for daytime trips on May 3rd, Wednesday, May 19th marks the second phase of France’s déconfinement (reopening). Here’s what changes

Bars, cafés and restaurants are allowed to reopen their outdoor areas only. This is probably the most exciting change for many people following the complete closure of all eating and drinking establishments (apart from takeout) since October. There will still be rules in place, however, including a maximum of six people per table. Also, unfortunately the weather forecast is pretty bad.

Curfew moves back two hours to 9pm. Anyone out between 9pm and 6am will still need both an essential reason and an attestation.

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All shops can reopen. Shops classed as non-essential have been closed across the country since April 3rd but these can now all reopen, albeit with strict limits on the number of customers allowed per square metre, so expect queues outside popular small stores.

Museums, cinemas, theatres and other cultural spaces are also allowed to reopen, again with strict limits on the number of people allowed per square metre. Most museums and tourist sites are operating on a pre-booked ticket only basis, so check what the rule is before you visit.

Outdoor sporting activities will again be allowed (also on the condition that they respect specific health rules). Sports stadiums can reopen with a limit of 800 spectators in indoor spaces and 1,000 in outdoor venues.

Gatherings of up to 10 people will be allowed in public spaces (up from six currently). There is no actual rule on gatherings in indoor private spaces such as homes, but the guidance is to keep groups limited to six adults.

Spas can also reopen 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) but not for the general public.

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And what stays the same:

Indoor gyms remain closed unless you have been prescribed exercise by a doctor.

Working from home continues to be the rule.

Tourists from most non-EU countries (with the exception of the UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Israel, Japan and Singapore) remain barred.

Mask rules remain in place, making masks compulsory for all indoor public spaces and in the streets in many of France’s larger towns and cities. Failure to wear a mask – covering your nose and mouth – in a designated space can net you a €135 fine.

The ‘health passport‘ allowing vaccinated people to prove their status for travel is not expected to be in use until June, so for the moment even fully-vaccinated travellers have to follow the rules on testing and quarantine.

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