France to scrap face masks in public and lift curfew ten days early

France is to end mask-wearing in public on Thursday and lift a curfew this Sunday, ten days earlier than expected.

Jean Castex, the French prime minister, said the country’s health situation was "improving faster than we had hoped".

The French have been religiously wearing masks in public places and have been under evening curfew for the past eight months with the current obligation to stay home after 11pm due to be lifted on June 30.

However, Mr Castex on Wednesday confirmed it would be waived ahead of schedule.

Britain was due to end restrictions on June 21, but the move has been postponed for a month due to a rise in infections linked to the Delta variant. Mr Castex said the opposite was happening in France.

People wear protective face masks as they stroll along a street in Nantes

Credit: LOIC VENANCE/AFP 

"The health situation is improving faster than we had hoped," he said after a council of ministers meeting at the Elysée Palace.

"We haven’t seen such a low infection rate since last August," he said, adding that the daily figure for new Covid cases had fallen below 5,000 nationwide with no "worrying dynamic" and that intensive care occupancy had now fallen to below 2,000.

"Given these results, it is quite normal that we adjust certain measures," he said.

However, Mr Castex reminded the French that they must continue to wear masks "in crowded places, in queues or in markets".

Masks will remain compulsory inside shops, public transport and other closed public areas.

More than 30 million French, or 45 per cent of the population, have received at least one vaccine dose and 15 million are fully vaccinated. France intends to hit 35 million double doses and 40 million with at least one dose by the end of August.

Coronavirus France Spotlight Chart – Cases default

The French had started showing signs of impatience over restrictions and social distancing was regularly flouted during France’s victory over Germany in their 2020 Euro football clash on Monday night. 

The government had already indicated that it would be "lenient" on anyone flouting the 11pm curfew after the game. 

France will next Monday celebrate its annual national music day in which millions take to the streets to play and listen to music of all types late into the night.

France is also due to hold regional elections on Sunday.

 

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