Coronavirus Pandemic

Covid-19: Paris cafes reopen as virus restrictions ease

Filed on May 19, 2021
Employees set up a cafe's terrace in Paris, ahead of the reopening of bars and restaurant in France. Photo: AFP

Terraces and rooftop gardens have been booked out as outdoor dining returns across France.

Parisians will return to their beloved cafe terraces and museums Wednesday after a six-month Covid-forced hiatus, a glimmer of normal life returning even as hard-hit India grapples with thousands more virus deaths.

As health workers administered the world's 1.5 billionth Covid vaccine dose, Europeans and Americans continued to climb out from under long months of restrictions.

In recent days Britons have hugged their loved ones and streamed into pubs, gyms and other indoor venues. Italy has relaxed curfews, Dutch music fans have readied for the Eurovision Song Contest and Portugal has welcomed returning tourists.

"It's nice to get away and be back here," said Barry Thompson, a 63-year-old retired policeman from Manchester who landed in the sun-kissed southern town of Faro with his wife and son.

In New York - an early virus epicentre - rules requiring masks and social distancing are set to ease, although some residents remain cautious about a disease that has upended life in almost every corner of the globe.

Manhattan restaurant manager Juan Rosas said he plans to still require masks, even for vaccinated patrons: "I think it is too early. I think they rushed the decision," he said.

In Paris, the terraces and rooftop gardens that define the city for many visitors have been booked out as outdoor dining returns across the country, with a few lingering restrictions.

"Like a diesel engine, we'll be warming up slowly," bistro owner Stephanie Mathey told AFP.

The City of Light's museums, cinemas and theatres are also reopening ahead of a full-scale unlocking of the economy on June 30.

"We are glad to be able to welcome you again," staff of the Louvre, the world's most visited museum, wrote on its website, where demand for tickets to a Renaissance sculpture show was brisk.

The slow rebirth of Europe's communal life is being fuelled by now quickening vaccination programmes, after more than a year of battling a pandemic that caused at least 3.4 million deaths worldwide.

According to an AFP tally, more than 1,500,017,337 vaccine doses have now been administered in 210 countries and territories.

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