Outdoor bars to be open in days, as France proceeds with easing Covid restrictions amid falling intensive care cases

France’s health minister, Olivier Veran, has confirmed that the nation will proceed with the next step of Covid lockdown easing on May 19, allowing outdoor bars and restaurants to reopen, as intensive care cases fall.

Speaking on LCI television, the French official declared that “the prospects look rather good” as the nation emerges from a lockdown imposed amid rising case numbers, but he warned that “we must not let down the guard.”

The roadmap out of lockdown was unveiled at the end of April, with the next step on May 19 allowing non-essential businesses to reopen, and restaurants and bars to serve tables of up to six people outdoors.

Despite the step forward, the nightly curfew in place in parts of France will remain until at least June 30, with social distancing guidelines expected to remain for the foreseeable future.

The decision to move forward with the next stage comes after data released by the French health ministry showed that the number of Covid patients in intensive care has fallen below 5,000 for the first time since March.

France is hoping that, if cases continue to fall, lockdown easing will be able to proceed uninterrupted. Foreign tourists are allowed to visit the country from June 9 if they can present proof of vaccination or a PCR test.

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People in France are already able to travel without documentation justifying their trip, the 10-kilometer limit on movement has been removed, and students at elementary and secondary schools have been allowed to return to the classroom for face-to-face teaching.

In the four-stage plan to exit lockdown, President Emmanuel Macron laid out that, despite potentially moving forward, the government has an ‘emergency brake’ measure in place that will allow restrictions to be quickly reimposed if cases rise above 400 per 100,000 people.

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