In an official announcement this past Thursday, April 29, 2021, French President Emmanuel Macron laid out the plans of reopening the country post-lockdown
. France is currently on its third nationwide lockdown since the Covid-19 global pandemic started in early 2020. Now, for the first time in over a year, the country plans to go back to normal starting mid-May 2021.
President Macron's Four-Stage Plan
Through various regional news outlets across the country, President Macron explained that the new plan of reopening France consists of four different stages. This way, once each stage is set in motion, they're able to gauge the situation and properly monitor public spaces. For the first time since the global pandemic started early last year, various non-essential places like museums
, theaters, and cinemas will finally re-open to the public. However, as the plan rolls through, capacities for various places remain limited for proper social distancing. Although vaccines have helped in improving the situation in France, people are still required to practice social distancing and other health protocols.
Dates To Look Out For
The plan will start on Monday, May 3, 2021, wherein in-person classes in middle schools and high schools will resume. Restrictions and limitations on daytime travel will also be lifted by then. After that, the second stage will begin on May 19, 2021, in which the terrace areas of restaurants, cafes, bars, as well as movie theaters and museums will reopen. Culinary establishments are still required to limit their seats and tables, allowing only six people per table. For cinemas and movie theaters, they're only allowed a seating capacity of 800 people indoors and 1,000 outdoors. And the curfew will start at 9:00 pm to 6:00 am the next day.
If things go smoothly or improve by then, the third stage of the plan will start on June 9, 2021. By this time, indoor areas of restaurants, cafes, and bars can now reopen, as well as gyms and fitness clubs
too. Limitations on seating capacities for the former will be lifted provided establishments require their guests to practice the necessary health protocols. As for the curfew, it will be pushed back to start at 11:00 pm at night. And if the situation continues to improve, by June 30, 2021, the fourth stage of the plan will commence. This time, all restrictions and curfews will be lifted. With that said, President Macron also stressed that any department that sees at least 400 out of 1,000 residents new cases will continue to be on lockdown until the situation improves.
What's Happening in Other European Countries?
Following this announcement, France joins a handful of European countries set on reopening post-pandemic. Italy, according to France24
, which was once the epicenter of the Covid-19 virus in Europe back in mid-2020, plans to ease out of the lockdown by next month as well. Various establishments will start to reopen all throughout the country, all while the parliament debates the €220 billion Eu-funded recovery plan. Meanwhile, the BBC reports
that Spain's tourism minister Fernando Valdés shared that the country plans to test how effective digital vaccine passports will be in May. This is in the hopes of welcoming tourists back by summer 2021.
The Rewards of Europe's Vaccine Passport
All these talks of reopening countries in Europe stem from the recent development of the EU's Digital Green Certificate
. It's a vaccine passport system that allows travelers who have been vaccinated, tested negative, and have recovered from Covid-19 to travel freely within the region. It's a plan that seeks to boost the continent's tourism after the global pandemic led various countries to go on nationwide lockdowns. The Digital Green Certificate will also be available to non-EU travelers and can get it from the member-state where they're traveling to.
Even though the Covid-19 global pandemic still looms large in various parts of the world, France has finally put forth a concrete four-stage plan on reopening the country this summer 2021. Only time can tell if things go back to normal by then!