France’s much-awaited third stage of deconfinement took effect Wednesday with the reopening of borders to foreign tourists, indoor restaurant dining and sports centers to the public.
“Here we are,” President Emmanuel Macron said in a tweet. “We had missed this life so much. For this recovery to be sustainable, let us continue to respect protocols and barrier gestures.”
Prime Minister Jean Castex, who visited a coffee shop and had lunch at a popular brasserie in Paris, hailed the “great victory” and “joy of living” with the latest round of restrictions eliminated.
“It is a symbol of the country which is coming back to life.… the health situation is improving, but that does not mean that we should not remain vigilant,” he told reporters after lunch, according to a BFM TV report.
Last month, terraces at restaurants and cafes were opened, however, indoor dining, which has been off the table since October, was closed until Wednesday.
Similarly, swimming pools and indoor sports centers which were shut last year are allowed to reopen at 50% capacity. A 9 p.m. (1900GMT) curfew is relaxed until 11 p.m. (2100GMT) until the end of the month.
Castex and Health Minister Olivier Veran insisted that wearing masks outdoors will be mandatory at least until June 30 when the last stage of deconfinement with no curfew or restrictions will take effect.
The overall health situation has also seen significant improvements with a decline in new cases, admissions in intensive care units and deaths.
Secretary of State in Charge of Tourism Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne posted a video on Twitter welcoming foreign tourists. “We have missed you Europeans, you are the beating heart of tourism. If you are vaccinated from European countries you don’t need any formalities to enter France,” he said.
The government classified countries on red, orange and green lists based on the epidemic situation. All European countries and Australia, South Korea, Israel, Japan, Lebanon, New Zealand and Singapore are part of the green list. Vaccinated travelers can enter France without restrictions, whereas those who are unvaccinated will be required to take a PCR or antigen test 72 hours before departure.
Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Turkey, Uruguay and South Africa are part of the red list. Vaccinated travelers from here can only enter if they have compelling reasons and will be allowed entry with a PCR or antigen test within 48 hours before departure followed by an antigenic test on arrival and self-isolation for seven days. Unvaccinated travelers will have to undergo a compulsory 10-day quarantine.
Remaining countries, including the UK, US, Canada, China are demarcated on the orange list. Vaccinated travelers from those countries can enter with a negative PCR for 72 hours, or antigen 48 hours, in advance, whereas those who are unvaccinated with a compelling reason will be permitted with a test and require a mandatory seven-day self-isolation.