France is the latest in Europe to lift most COVID restrictions, even for the unvaccinated

Shoppers buying groceries at a market
Maskless customers buy goods at a market in Biarritz, in southwestern France, on Monday.
(Bob Edme / Associated Press)

France lifted most COVID-19 restrictions Monday, abolishing the requirement for face masks in most settings and allowing unvaccinated people back into restaurants, sports arenas and other venues.

The move was announced earlier this month by the French government based on assessments of the improving situation in hospitals and following weeks of a steady decline in coronavirus infections. It also comes less than a month before the first round of the presidential election scheduled for April 10.

In recent days, however, the number of new infections has started increasing again, raising concerns from some scientists that it may be too soon to lift restrictions. The number of new daily infections has reached more than 60,000 based on a seven-day average, up from about 50,000 a week before.


Starting Monday, people aren’t required any longer to show proof of vaccination to enter places such as restaurants and bars, cinemas, theaters and fairs or on interregional transportation systems such as trains. The so-called vaccine pass had taken effect at the end of January.

Unvaccinated people still must provide a recent negative test or proof of recent recovery to enter hospitals and nursing homes.

A restaurant owner in Paris, Laurent Negre, praised the lifting of restrictions as “return to normal.”

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“We got used to these restrictions and complicated protocols, so we will enjoy work more now. ... So it’s good news,” he said.

Parisian Bartholome Laisi, 23, called it “a good thing, because people will be able to get more freedom of movement. But we need to be careful and monitor it, to avoid another [COVID] wave right after.”

Wearing masks is no longer required in schools, businesses and offices. They remain mandatory on public transportation and at hospitals and other health facilities.


Jocelyne Muller, who lives near Paris, was still wearing her mask Monday on the streets of the French capital after disembarking from a suburban train.

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“It’s a relief” to be able to remove it “even though the mask does not bother me particularly,” she said. “Now we just hope that it will bring back people in the cinemas, theaters and all artistic places.”

More than 92% of people 12 and older are fully vaccinated in France, which has a population of 67 million.