PARIS (AP) — Nibbling a butter croissant on a sunlit cafe terrace became the norm again in Paris this week as France reopened its outdoor dining economy.
After seven months of closures, residents could once more be seen reading “Le Monde” accompanied by nothing but a short “noisette” coffee, or sharing a kiss by the dappled light of a bistro.
Streets were bustling with revelers swilling beers outside bar terraces for the first time this year.
In movie theaters, large teddy bears were placed around seats to encourage social distancing as Parisians flocked back to the cinema in droves.
The French government lifted restrictions incrementally, seeking to strike a balance between staving off a resurgence of COVID-19 and giving citizens back some of their signature “joie de vivre.”
As part of the plan’s first stage, France’s 7 p.m. nightly curfew was pushed back to 9 p.m. and museums, theaters and cinemas reopened, along with cafe terraces.
President Emmanuel Macron, among the first to take a seat at a cafe terrace, was seen chatting with customers and with Prime Minister Jean Castex, projecting a mood of measured optimism.