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France has eased coronavirus restrictions to torrential rain. As bars, cafes and restaurants reopened their terraces and gardens for the first time in six months, many drinkers and diners faced hail, thunder and lightning. The French meteorological office put the north, central and eastern areas of the country – including Paris – on alert for violent storms and winds of up to 80kmh (50mph).
However, most decided not to let the weather dampen their spirits as they enjoyed a taste of long-awaited freedom. In Paris, the city authorities requested residents show “tolerance and patience” with sudden noise and terraces creeping into pedestrian areas and parking spaces.
For the last couple of days, owners of establishments that do not have an outside terrace have been busy building makeshift eating and drinking areas. On Wednesday, Paris City Hall reminded bar, cafe and restaurant owners of the exceptional rules they have put in place until 1 July.
These require owners to sign and display a good behaviour charter promising, among other things, not to block pavements, to limit noise and to guarantee the cleanliness of the public space they are occupying. They are also banned from using plastic glasses or cutlery and from firing up gas or electric terrace heaters.
The limited reopening of bars, cafes and restaurants as well as all shops, museums, theatres, cinemas and outdoor sporting activities marked phase 2 of France’s staggered easing of Covid restrictions. Indoor gyms remain closed.
A maximum of six people are allowed at each terrace table and a maximum of 10 people can gather in public spaces, increased from six. There is no maximum limit on gatherings in private homes, but health officials recommend no more than six adults.
The nationwide curfew was pushed back two hours to start at 9pm until 6am; anyone out during curfew hours was warned they would need a sworn attestation justifying why they are from home.
Masks must still be worn in all indoor public spaces and in the streets of larger towns and cities.
The end of phase 1 of France’s national lockdown came two weeks ago, when the 10km limit on travel was lifted. The next stage comes on 9 June when restaurants, cafes and bars will be allowed to open inside and outside but at 50% maximum capacity, and the curfew will start at 11pm. These hospitality venues will be allowed to fully open on 30 June, but the curfew is expected to remain in place.
The French rolling news channel BFMTV showed the president, Emmanuel Macron, and the prime minister, Jean Castex, enjoying a morning cafe on a terrace near the Élysée. Later, Macron tweeted: “We made it. Terraces, museums, cinemas, theatres … let’s rediscover what makes up our art de vivre. But respect social distancing measures.”
The finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, tweeted a selfie showing him at a terrace table reading L’Équipe, the daily sports newspaper, and wrote: “L’art de vivre à la Française.”
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Rain falls on France’s outdoor terraces as Covid restrictions ease | France