Covid reopening

Relief in sight for France as café terraces, museums to reopen mid-May

President Emmanuel Macron says he wants to see cafe and restaurant terraces reopened throughout France from the middle of May.
President Emmanuel Macron says he wants to see cafe and restaurant terraces reopened throughout France from the middle of May. AFP - LUDOVIC MARIN

President Emmanuel Macron has confirmed that French museums and restaurant terraces will be able to reopen from mid-May after nearly seven months' closure beginning with the Covid-19 second wave. 


Macron held talks with Prime Minister Jean Castex and Health Minister Olivier Véran on Thursday at the Elysée with the aim of defining the return of the businesses that have been closed during another attempt to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

“From the first phase of reopening, culture will be there,” said Macron, citing museums as the first venues to reopen. “If after two or three weeks it is going well, we can move on to phase two and so on.”

Though the exact details of the opening hours and health protocols have not been specified, the move to open terraces – responsible for around 30 percent of a bar’s turnover – will offer a glimpse of salvation.

Relief for restaurateurs

"We are delighted that the date of mid-May is confirmed for the opening of the terraces," said Franck Trouet, a spokesman for the GNI union of independent hotels and restaurants. "It was good for morale. We are able to start preparing.”

Last summer following the emergence from the first national lockdown, scores of cafes, bars and customers failed to observe the rules on social distancing.

Subsequent shutdowns have highlighted the need for vigilance, say ministers.

Cautious reopening

Agnès Pannier-Runacher, the minister for industry told RMC: “The reopening will be progressive and worked profession by profession.”

It is understood that between 15 and 28 May, terraces can start reopening and hotel guests will be allowed to have breakfast, lunch and dinner in the dining room.

During a second phase between 29 May and 11 June, restaurants will be able to offer limited inside dining. Bars and cafes will also be able to serve a set number of customers inside.

From 12 June, a full reopening is planned.

"We need to find the right balance, so that everyone's health is guaranteed and so that companies can resume activity allowing them to pay their suppliers and employees,” added Trouet.

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