Clubs are set to reopen in France from 16th February, according to the latest announcement by the country's Prime Minister, Jean Castex.
The plan to start easing coronavirus restrictions relies on the use of a Covid-19 vaccination pass from today, Monday 24th January, which will be required for entry into most public areas. This electronic system no longer recognises a negative Covid-19 test result or proof of recent recovery from infection. The change came about in a bid to encourage more people to get vaccinated.
Depending on how hospitalisations and infection numbers change, the pass system may be shelved in the near future, according to Health Minister Olivier Véran. However, it is still too early to say when this could happen, or what rates would trigger the decision.
As of 2nd February, audience capacity limits — currently set at 2,000 people indoors and 5,000 outside — will also be lifted, at which point it will no longer be mandatory to wear a face mask in outdoor public settings. The ongoing work-from-home order will also be cancelled at this point, leaving the decision to companies and employees.
"We are a bit more confident in saying we can relax some of these constraints and let people return to life as normal as possible," said Véran, adding France's inoculation level had improved and jabs were now being offered to those aged between 12 and 17: "Since the announcement of the vaccine pass, one million French people have gotten vaccinated."
Nightclubs in France closed in December, initially for a minimum of four weeks, resulting in the cancellation of New Year's Eve and Day parties. This ruling was then extended through January as coronavirus cases continued to soar. Around the same time, a number of key venues across the country announced plans to lobby govornment for recognition as cultural institutions, mirroring similar moves in Germany, including an ongoing UNESCO Cultural Heritage bid.
In other news from the EU, clubs in the Republic of Ireland are due to open this weekend, as almost all Covid-19 restrictions are removed from 6AM on Saturday morning. Meanwhile, in the UK, England has confirmed that no Covid-related entry requirements will be in place as of 26th January, meaning those attending events do not need to show proof of vaccination, negative test result, or infection recovery.