Positive pandemic news from France

The Italians have been doing it since April, the Greeks started on Monday – and France is shortly set to follow suit, allowing the country’s café, bar and restaurant terraces to reopen for the first time since autumn.The French government has confirmed that the reopening of bar, café and restaurant terraces will go ahead as planned from 19th May – whopee!

Health minister Olivier Véran confirmed that:

The signs are promising, 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.

In addition:-

  • The curfew will be pushed back to 9pm (from 7pm currently).
  • Non-essential and very large shops that had to close in March can reopen, but they will have to respect strict health rules and limit the number of customers allowed in at the same time.
  • Café, bar and restaurant terraces can reopen with a rule of maximum six people per table.
  • Museums, cinemas and theatres get to reopen too, but with strict health rules and limits on the number of people allowed in at the same time.
  • Outdoor sporting activities will again be allowed (also on condition they respect specific health rules), but indoor gyms remain closed. Sports stadia can reopen with a limit of 800 spectators in indoor spaces and 1,000 in outdoor venues.
  • Gatherings of up to 10 people will be allowed in public spaces (up from six currently).
  • Working from home continues to be the rule.
  • Weddings will be allowed with health measures in place and limits on guest numbers.
  • Spas can also reopen for cures thermales – spa treatments prescribed by a doctor (yes, that is a thing in France).

A Harris Interactive study for Coca-Cola European Partners published last week, revealed that 68% of those in France (me included) are already looking forward to that first drink with friends en terrasse.

So, how will it work?

Strict conditions will remain in place. Only outdoor terraces will be open; there will be a limit of six people to a table; and the curfew remains in place, though it is to be shifted from 7pm to 9pm.

But Covid-19 is still heavily affecting France and although the numbers are falling, how safe is it to return to socialising outdoors?

Safer outside

The main message is still that (outdoor terraces) are far less risky than poorly ventilated interior spaces. A leading epidemiologist estimated the risk of infection at 18 to 20 times lower outdoors than inside.

Nearly 18 months after the start of the pandemic, experts agree that Covid-19 is largely transmitted through aerosols – tiny droplets of breath and saliva that hang in the air produced through infected people breathing, speaking, shouting or singing. In a poorly ventilated space, an aerosol cloud can hang for several minutes or even hours before dissipating. But outside on a terrace, it dissipates rapidly into the atmosphere, like cigarette smoke.

But risks remain

But outdoor terraces are still potentially problematic because those environments are associated with loud speech, people being close to each other, and, consequently, not wearing masks. Having said that, being outdoors will substantially reduce risks of transmission compared with indoors.

Indoors, aerosols remain dangerous for those in close quarters with an infected person, as germs can be inhaled before they have chance to dissipate.This is why distance between people is the most important factor, even outside, especially when you are eating and drinking and therefore cannot wear a mask.

I’m getting a sense that I may only want to initially socialise with those who’ve been vaccinated since vaccines offer the best long-term protection and the best way to reduce infections.

Fans and filters

In a recent study French researchers also noted a “short-range aerosol risk” and suggested the use of large fans which induce turbulent fluctuations, rather than an average flow though the risk varies with the direction of the wind and declines with distance from an infected person. The authors of the French study said that besides giant fans, devices could be placed on tables to filter ambient air.

So, to sum up, I’ll only be drinking/eating on terraces with my beloved where there’s more than adequate social distancing. But first up we’ll be enjoying a picnic this weekend somewhere more than 10km from home.

59 Comments on “Positive pandemic news from France

  1. Woot! Woot! If you’re vaxed and masked you should be fairly safe. Let’s hope that everyone else is also. Just curious: does France have a group of people who are resistant to getting the vax? The US is reported to be 55% vaccinated now, but there is a hard-core group refusing vaccinations.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Spain is out already. However, talking with the resto/bar owners here the process is still insufficient as only 50% capacity, no more than 6 to a table, and terraces will open first, how to manage all the crowds! the resto/bar owners are not cops! Hopefully elections are coming soon lol!

    Liked by 7 people

    • I think they have reduced capacity because of distancing. Less of an issue for us as we’re used to eating outside and our favourite restaurants have large terraces.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Susie, Restaurants here in the UK opened up for outdoor eating and drinking just over two weeks ago, but they don’t open up indoors until this coming Monday 17th. May
      Some places with gardens erected marquees but left one wall side/doorway open for ventilation and this was allowed.

      My son ate out twice, but then refused to eat out again until we open up indoors again he said it was absolutely freezing. But we are in Yorkshire and not he south!

      Liked by 3 people

  3. We open indoors on Monday. And with two of my daughters I are planning to go out for breakfast. We assumed lunch and dinner would be busier. The last time I ate in a restaurant was back in August and the tables were spaced far apart – It will be interesting to see the indoor arrangement this time.

    Liked by 5 people

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