‘Beginning of a new life’ – How France greeted the reopening gyms, pools and indoor dining

'Beginning of a new life' - How France greeted the reopening gyms, pools and indoor dining
Photo: Loic Venance/AFP
People in France enjoyed indoor dining and gyms for the first time in months on Wednesday, as falling Covid-19 rates allowed the government to relax coronavirus rules and push the curfew back to 11pm.

Wednesday marks phase 3 of France’s reopening plans, with bars, restaurants and cafés allowed to open their indoor spaces while gyms and swimming pools could also reopen.

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Rules for travellers from within the EU were also eased, while vaccinated travellers were allowed in again from non-EU countries including the UK, USA and Canada under the traffic light system.

EXPLAINED How France’s traffic light travel system works

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The return of simple joys was welcome for some.

“It’s a pleasure to have a coffee inside. Normal life is gradually resuming,” said transport employee Hammou Mraoui, sipping a coffee in a bar in the Meudon suburb of Paris.

Bar owner Christophe Guedes said it was an adjustment to serve indoors again.

“It’s almost strange to hear a client say ‘a coffee inside please’, but it’s a huge relief,” he told AFP.

The overnight curfew will now start later – at 11pm instead of 9pm – before being dropped entirely on June 30th if the health situation permits.

The new measures also mean that spectators will be able to enjoy night sessions for the final stages of the French Open tennis in Paris.

Some fitness buffs were happy to finally be allowed inside again, including Stephanie Moscoso, who hit her local gym in central Paris at 8am.

“I was super motivated. I put on the alarm clock this morning, it was super early, I saw the sun, I said to myself: this is the beginning of a new life!” the 35-year-old said.

One sector still lacking clarity is night clubs, which remain closed until further notice, with the government set to look at the situation again on June 21st.

And in virtually all of France, masks remain obligatory even out of doors until further notice.

The new openings come as France – one of Europe’s hardest hit countries – sees a sharp drop-off of coronavirus cases after a grim winter.

The numbers in intensive care are down to 2,394 compared with 6,000 in late April.

And as of Tuesday more than 28 million people had at least one vaccine shot – about 55 percent of the adult population.

The government is on course to reach its target of 30 million people with at least one dose of the vaccine by June 15th.

President Emmanuel Macron urged caution with the reopenings, while embracing a return to normal.

“A new step will be taken” on Wednesday, President Emmanuel Macron wrote on Twitter.

“Life will resume across our country. It is part of our culture, of our art of living, that we are going to reacquaint ourselves with,” he said.

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