FRANCE RE-OPENS

French Health Minister confirms restaurant terraces will reopen on 19 May

French Health Minister Olivier Véran.
French Health Minister Olivier Véran. AFP - ALAIN JOCARD

Health Minister Olivier Véran has confirmed that outdoor serving areas in restaurants and cafés all over France will re-open, as planned, on 19 May. The minister told a television audience on Monday morning that the Covid epidemic is losing ground, and the prerssure on hospitals, especially intensive care units, is diminishing, 

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The number of coronavirus patients in French intensive care wards on Sunday fell below 5,000 for the first time since 29 March.

"The signs are promising," said the health minister on Monday morning, "but that certainly doesn't mean that we can stop taking precautions.

"Let's continue to wear masks, maintain correct distances. But we can start moving back towards something like normality," Olivier Véran continued.

According to official figures, 450,000 people were vaccinated on Saturday and Sunday, the best weekend since the start of the inocculation campaign. 

On the question of the so-called Indian variant of the coronavirus, the minister has confirmed that 20 cases were identified in France late last week, in five small clusters. He did not specify the region or regions in which those infections had been confirmed. 

But Olivier Véran did offer assurance. "At the moment, the Indian variant is not spreading rapidly," the minister said.

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