Paris, June 10 (IANS) "Here we are!" tweeted French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday, marking the debut of a new phase in the country's easing of its coronavirus lockdown.
"Sit at a restaurant table. Escape from it during a show. Vibrate in unison in the stadium. Go back to the halls. The life we missed so much!" he wrote, Xinhua news agency reported.
After seven months of closure, restaurants, bars and cafes throughout France are now able to host customers indoors, albeit still at half of their seating capacity and with tables limited to a maximum of six people.
Open again since May 19, outdoor seating areas of catering businesses are now back to full capacity.
The new step towards a return to normalcy seems to have put extra winds in the sails of Roy Rajas, 38, owner of a fast-food restaurant in the commune of Persan north of Paris. Without a terrace, his kitchen has been operating at reduced capacity.
"I've been offering home deliveries and takeaway service only. Surely that helped us limit our losses, but the sight of empty tables and upturned chairs breaks the morale of any restaurant owner," he told Xinhua.
"It's nice to see customers dine again inside. I hope this situation will now last," he added.
During the new phase of lockdown easing, "life is resuming all over France," commented Bruno Le Maire, France's minister of economy and finance.
Cultural venues can now increase their seating capacity to 65 percent compared to 35 per cent allowed on May 19. Indoor gyms and covered swimming pools can reopen to the public at half capacity.
Working at home is no longer the rule and the restrictions on tourists' arrival are eased. The start of the night-time curfew is pushed back by two hours to 11 p.m. Eventually, all the COVID-19 restrictions are set to be removed later this month.
Yassine Kassi, an employee at a marketing and ads firm in Paris, found his way back to the office on Wednesday after having worked remotely for seven months.
"I'm so happy to find again our habits, our normal daily life: going to work, eating outside, sipping a drink with colleagues. All that was a routine before the epidemic. Now it's vital to feel that we are living despite the virus," he said.