Almost a year ago, when the coronavirus epidemic was breaking out in France, no one could have imagined the health crisis would last this long. Today, after two nationwide lockdowns, countless restrictions, closure of cultural places, restaurants, bars, mandatory facemasks, health guidelines and a deep change in the French’s ways of life… many of them are only craving one thing: things to go back to normal.
When will it be possible to meet with friends in a bar again, or have a date at a restaurant? When will the French be able to return to a gym to work out? When will they be able to enjoy a work of art in a museum, enjoy a standing concert or enjoy a play? As many questions and answers depending on the evolution of Covid-19 and its variants, but also and most of all on vaccination, as Emmanuel Macron promised all the French will be able to be vaccinated “by the end of summer”.
Of course, there are still many uncertainties at this stage. But let us discover together the possible leads considered, sector by sector.
When are cultural places to reopen in France?
This is a question many French people are wondering about, as museums have been allowed to reopen in several European countries such as in Italy, for instance. In France, the answer is crystal clear. To date, no reopening date has been set by the Minister of Culture. Yet, this past February 8, Roselyne Bachelot assured she was working on “reopening museums and monuments as soon as possible”, adding they will be the first cultural places to reopen once the health situation will allow it.
And what about show and concert venues? Once again, no date has been set by the government, but the Minister of Culture has confirmed three test concerts are to be held this spring in Marseille and Paris.
As for festivals, Roselyne Bachelot stated they will take place this summer, on certain conditions. Therefore, they will have to comply with a gauge of maximum 5,000 festivalgoers and they will have to be seated. Since this announcement, several festivals have cancelled their editions 2021 such as Hellfest, and Garorock.
Others, like Les Vieilles Charrues and Festival de Poupet are willing to adapt.
As for night clubs, professionals from the sector are lost. Closed since March 2020, these nighttime places have zero reopening prospect. And yet, the City of Paris is thinking about a festive summer with open-air events.
Several showbiz players are campaigning for the creation of "Temporary Emergency Party Areas".
When will restaurants and bars reopen in France?
Closed since late October, food places are growing impatient has they were first said to reopen on January 20. But given the current health situation, the reopening has been postponed, and no date has been given so far.
According to Le Point, restaurants might stay closed up to April 6, 2021. The magazine reads “several sources close to the file and in direct touch with the Elysée, Matignon, and Bercy” are preparing a reopening plan for Easter – in the best-case scenarios.
Matignon reacted quickly after the news was shared. “I can’t see us lock ourselves up in a date system that would obviously cause deception if not to be complied with – Matignon said. Reopening depending on the real evolution of the pandemic would consist in allowing activities to resume as soon as the circulation of the virus – for instance – has decreased below a given threshold”. As for the Minister of the Economy and Finances, he also intended to deny these rumors. Unproved assumptions that are only “wind” according to Bercy boss.
Still according to Le Point, bars and cafés migh wait even longer: they may reopen in June 2021 only.
In an article released in Journal du Dimanche on February 28, 2021, about forty parliamentarians from different political parties aks the Prime Minister to study the possibility to reopen all restaurants for lunch by the end of March, "including fitting health measures".
For the record, according to several studies – the latest being conducted by Institut Pasteur – restaurants and meals are part of the highest risk places of infections.
When will gyms reopen?
Same situation as restaurants and bars. Gyms have been closed since late October and there are still many uncertainties as to their reopening. But hope grows thanks to the design of masks dedicated to workouts, as told by Ministry of Sports Roxana Maracineanu. She says some of these specialized masks may be marketed by the end of March.
Furthermore, some scientists are claiming for stadiums to reopen “with a lot of precautions. […] Being outside highly reduces spread” infectious disease specialist Pierre Tattevin explained.
Curfew from 6 p.m.: how long for?
Even though France managed to prevent a third nationwide lockdown so far, the government has decided to extend curfew from 6 p.m. Very restrictive for some French, many are wondering how long it is for. At this stage, the government has set no date to lift the measure. It will all obviously depend on the evolution of the health context and the decrease in new case toll.
Since then, because of sharply increasing incidence rates in several areas, the government has decided to instate local restrictions in Dunkirk, Moselle, and even Alpes Maritimes.
For the record, health emergency has been extended to this coming June 1 by the Parliament.
When will all the French be vaccinated?
This is a key question to imagine things to get back to normal. In France, the vaccination campaign started right after Christmas. After a slow start, the campaign speeded up. And to this day, 2,255,595 French have been given the first shot of vaccine, namely 3.37% of the population. yet, only 640,875 of them have been given the second shot.
So, will Emmanuel Macron hold his promise? This past February 2, the French President promised that “by the end of summer, vaccine will have been proposed to all the French wishing so”.
When will the Covid-19 epidemic end?
Vaccine is the only thing that could control the epidemic, epidemiologist and Academy of Medicine member Yves Buisson said.
Yet, let us not forget that not all the French wish to get vaccinated. According to an Odoxa-Backbone Consulting survey released this January 14 for France Info, 56% of the French said they want to get vaccinated against Covid-19. They were 41.5% to clearly say they want to get vaccinated in another survey conducted by Research pour ShoWhere. As highlighted by Ouest-France, in order to reach the oh-so expected herd immunity, it is necessary to vaccinate 70% of the population.
Furthermore, the outbreak of variants is a gamechanger. Many people are wondering about the effectiveness of vaccines developed so far on the South-African and Brazilian variants.
This March 1, 2021, executive director of the World Health Organization’s emergencies program Michael Ryan said "It will be very premature, and I think unrealistic, to think that we’re going to finish with this virus by the end of the year", adding "If we’re smart, we can finish with the hospitalizations and the deaths and the tragedy associated with this pandemic".