NICE, France (AP) — Tourism is booming again in France — and rightly so COVID-19. French officials have “invited” or “recommended” people to return to using face masks, but have refrained from renewing restrictions that would scare away visitors or revive anti-government protests.
From Paris commuters to tourists on the French Riviera, many people welcome the government’s light touch, while some worry that the required containment measures may be needed.
Hospitalizations linked to the virus have soared in France over the past two weeks, with nearly 1,000 COVID-19 patients hospitalized per day, according to government data. Cases of infection are also increasing in Europe and the United Stateshowever, the proportion of people in hospital in France is quite high Our World in Data Estimation.
French government spokeswoman Olivia Gregoire said there were no plans to re-impose national rules restricting or setting conditions for indoor gatherings and other activities.
“The French people are tired of restrictions,” he said on BFMTV on Wednesday. “We are sure that people will behave responsibly.”
France’s parliamentary elections last month resulted in President Emmanuel Macron losing his majority in the national legislature, with far-right and left-wing parties challenging his government. vaccines and the mask rules were given place.
This week, after the prime minister advised people to wear masks on public transport, suburban Raphaelle Vertaldi said: “We have to fight the virus, but we can’t stop living because of it.”
Boarding the Boussy-Saint-Antoine train south of Paris, Vertaldi said he was against mandatory mask use but would cover his mouth and nose again if the government demanded it.
Hassani Mohammed, a postal worker in Paris, did not wait for the government’s decision. He wears a mask before his daily commute. He does not want to risk signing a contract because his wife is recovering from surgery and he has two children at home coronavirus for the third time.
“I realized that the pandemic is not a thing of the past,” Mohammad said.
Masks are controversial in France. At the beginning of the pandemic, the French government suggested that masks were not useful. It eventually imposed some of Europe’s toughest restrictions, including an indoor and outdoor mask mandate that lasted more than a year and strict lockdowns.
A Paris court ruled on Tuesday that the French government failed to stock enough surgical masks at the start of the pandemic to prevent the spread of the virus. An administrative court in Paris also ruled that the government was wrong to suggest in advance that masks do not protect people from infection.
The government lifted most virus regulations by April and foreign tourists have returned by land, sea and air to France’s Mediterranean beaches, restaurants and bars.
Meanwhile, French hospitals struggle with long-term staffing and funding shortages. Local officials are mulling new measures, including an indoor mask mandate in some cities, but nothing to stop economic activity.
French tourism experts expect the summer season to pick up despite the virus, with numbers likely to surpass pre-pandemic levels as Americans benefit from a weaker euro and others rediscover foreign travel after more than two years of restricted existence.
A slow economic recovery began last summer on the French Riviera. But the majority of visitors to the area were French, with gatherings still restricted, social distancing rules and travel restrictions imposed a year ago.
A tour guide and electric bike taxi driver in Nice described his joy at seeing foreign visitors again. During France’s repeated lockdowns, it transported essential workers and took people to hospitals, to care for elderly relatives or for PCR tests.
Now on his bike, passengers in the US, Australia, Germany, Italy, or unreachable have taped hand sanitizer to the barrier between the passenger and driver seats. He still diligently disinfects the bike before every ride “like it’s 2020,” he said.
A retired couple from the UK visited France this week on their first trip abroad since the lifting of pandemic travel restrictions. They began with a cruise along the Rhône River – face masks were mandatory on board – and ended with a few days in the Mediterranean.
“It’s been great from start to finish,” said Ros Runcie, who was in Nice with her husband Gordon. “Everyone is so happy to see you, everyone is really polite and friendly to visitors.”
Sue Baker, traveling with her husband Phil and the Runcies, observed: “It feels like it’s pre-2020.”
Asked about the possible return of the French mask rules, Phil Baker said: “Masks are a bit uncomfortable, especially in the heat.”
But his wife added: “If it means we can still go on holiday, we’ll put them back without hesitation.”
Le Delay reported from Boussy-Saint-Antoine, France.
Follow AP’s pandemic coverage https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic
Leave a Comment