France eases Covid restrictions, launches health pass

Photo: AP Lille, northern France, 6 June.

France enters its third and penultimate phase of easing Covid-19 restrictions on Wednesday as indicators continue to show the country's rate of infections subsiding, France 24 reported. After a seven-month ban on indoor dining, cafés and restaurants across the country will be permitted to welcome customers inside, albeit at half the establishment's seating capacity and with tables limited to a maximum of six people.

Outdoor terraces can open to full capacity, up from the 50% allowed since 19 May, although patio dining is also limited to tables of six.

Shops will be allowed to accommodate twice as many customers, with capacity bumped up to one patron per four square metres (from 8m² previously).

Gatherings of more than 10 people, with the exception of tour groups, are still prohibited. Face masks remain required, even outdoors, until at least 30 June.

France's new health pass also comes into effect on 9 June, enabling access to activities with large crowds. The pass, available digitally through the "Tous Anti-Covid" virus tracing app or in paper form, provides proof that an individual age 11 and up has been fully vaccinated against Covid-19; has tested positive for Covid-19 more than 15 days ago and within the last six months (with the resulting natural antibodies reducing the risk of reinfection); or has tested negative with a recent Covid-19 PCR test.

The health pass will allow access to gatherings of more than 1,000 people, including indoor and outdoor sporting events, cultural venues, casinos, festivals, trade shows and funfairs.

Museums can welcome double the number of visitors than they were allowed to when they reopened at the start of phase two on 19 May, with the same one person per 4m² capacity as shops.

Cinemas, theatres and circus big tops can let in up to 65% of their seating capacity, up from 35%. The new rules allow up to 5,000 spectators in a single audience, although the health pass will be required above the 1,000 mark. The same goes for outdoor festivals.

Zoos are also allowed to open their gates to visitors at 65% capacity, up from 50% last month. Casinos can open at half-capacity, up from 35%, with the health pass required for venues with more than 1,000 people on site.

Trade shows and funfairs can reopen to the public at 50% of their total capacity.

Starting Wednesday, EU residents will no longer need a compelling reason – known in France as a motif impérieux – to travel to France. Only non-vaccinated EU residents and visitors from seven other countries deemed "green" on the colour-coded map that France released on Friday will need to produce a recent negative Covid-19 antigen or PCR test. The seven green-lighted countries are Australia, Israel, Japan, Lebanon, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea.

Travel to and from a much wider swath of countries categorised for now as "orange" – the United Kingdom, North America, and almost all of Asia and Africa – will remain subject to heavier restrictions. Even vaccinated individuals travelling from "orange" countries to France will be required to provide a recent negative Covid-19 test.

Non-vaccinated travellers from "orange" countries, meanwhile, can only travel to France for a pressing reason (such as a medical or family emergency). They will also need to self-quarantine for seven days upon arrival.

More on this subject: Coronavirus

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