Paris reopens, eases back to normality

Parisians were finally able to enjoy their morning coffee and croissant in a cafe on Wednesday (May 19).

Cafes and restaurants reopened to customers for the first time in six months as France gradually emerged from its third national lockdown in little more than a year.

"I woke up in a good mood this morning even though I have a long day of work ahead of me, I'm happy. I'll be seeing my friends tonight in Paris, we'll get back to our normal life, our youth."

The health crisis has forced the closure of hospitality venues across the world, but in France, the shutdown was felt especially hard.

French people spend more time eating or drinking than citizens in any other developed nation, according to the OECD, and eating out is viewed as part of the social fabric.

Even Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire stopped to refuel.

"It's the beginning of a return to normalcy, a gradual re-opening of all businesses, all restaurants, all hotels. And I think it's good to take it step-by-step. The worst would be to hurry, because if we do, the numbers will go bad again, and we must go back to zero."

Museums were also able to open their doors on Wednesday, with visitors lining up early at the Louvre for the first time since October.

Economists estimate the latest lockdown had caused much less disruption than the previous two, as people adapted to working from home and businesses forced to close got by on government handouts and furlough schemes.

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