Despite the cold, gray and rainy day, Parisians began to enjoy the latest chapter of the lifting of their restrictions from the Covid pandemic in France.
This Wednesday began the last stage of disarray, with the end of the restrictions in establishments open to the public such as shops, restaurants, cinemas, theaters or museums. But some measures in the health area are still in force.
On the terrace of Café Flore in St Germain people greeted each other without a chinstrap, but for the first time they could sit inside, with a mask, after long months. But they are not yet allowed to approach the bar to order.
Aftermath of the pandemic
A tour of Paris showed the harsh consequences of the pandemic. On the Champs-Elysées, a re-ranking of boutiques, with sky-high rents.
The most vulnerable closed. Adidas, Nike, Dior reappeared, occupying almost half a block. The mythical Le Fouquets was opened, which destroyed the Yellow Vests in their demonstrations, its terrace and its interior.
The bars and restaurants of Paris already receive customers in the interior. Photo: EFE
Pizza Pino, the meeting place for Argentine tennis players who played at Roland Garros, is still dark.
The great avenue prepares for July 14, its national holiday. The official box has been moved, with the tricolor awning in Plaça de la Concorde and the stands, which will follow the vast military parade from the avenue des Champs-Élysées.
Stores closed and great deals
Boulevard St Germain suffered from Covid. Many of its boutiques did not resist. Others have appeared along with restaurants with their terraces, as well as bars facing the Seine River, with bookstores included.
The liquidations or “Les soldes” were launched this Wednesday together with the last chapter of the reopening. Le Bon Marché, an elegant Parisian version of the British Harrods, proposed discounts of 50 percent.
Uniqlo and Gap followed suit with offers of up to 70 percent reduction, but there were no queues. In these times of crisis, consumption is no longer a priority for the French.
Chinstraps are still mandatory in bar lounges in Paris. Photo: EFE
Public transportation buses have been transformed into post-pandemic hybrid vehicles.
The Parisian car traffic jam, thanks to the ecological measures of its mayor Anne Hidalgo and her cycling paths, has become impossible. Four hours to go to and from the Bastille to Place Victor Hugo.
The car will soon be an object in extinction in the French capital because the city has become impassable.
Recitals, with vaccination certificate
Concerts with standing audiences, including festivals, will be reauthorized in France from now on, but with a 75% level in closed venues.
The health permit (proof of vaccination, cure or recent negative test) will be required for standing concerts only for more than 1000 expected spectators, and the mask will not be mandatory.
During concerts or festivals, a chinstrap should be worn outdoors or in a room with a capacity for less than 1,000 spectators, since a health pass is not required.
Prefects they can take stricter measures if the local health situation requires it.
The discos will reopen on July 9 but will be in the minority. “Access will be reserved for those who can present a health permit,” said Alain Griset.
The permit must present either a complete vaccination schedule or the result of a PCR or antigen test of less than 48 hours, demonstrating the absence of contamination. The use of a mask will not be mandatory in the establishment.
These rules will remain in effect throughout the summer. A meeting with professionals to take stock is scheduled for mid-September.
Saint Lazare train station in Paris. The mask is still mandatory there. Photo: AFP
The use of chinstrap will continue to be mandatory in closed places such as shops, public services, offices, transport, schools or even covered shows.
This restriction will be maintained “as long as the health situation requires it,” according to the Interior Ministry.
Abroad, the use of a mask is also mandatory “in situations in which the rules of distancing cannot be applied,” the government emphasizes.
Queues, markets, public transport, station platforms or even airports are places where the French will have to keep the chinstrap beyond June 30 and until further notice, depending on the health situation.
Outdoor amateur sports competitions can be held up to a limit of 2,500 people, after June 30. The health pass will continue to be required for more than 1,000 people.
All these optimistic measures have a threat: the Delta variant, who was born in India, grew from 9 to 20 percent in France in one week and threatens with a fourth wave of pandemic.
With this exponential increase, freedoms and the lifting of restrictions everywhere are at stake.