PARIS

With improvement in the pandemic situation, France on Wednesday relaxed certain COVID-19 restrictions on daily life in line with similar moves by other European countries.

Government spokesperson Gabriel Attal announced the first round of lifting restrictions, marked by the end of compulsory masks outdoors. However, it is advised to follow sanitary rules and use masks in confined indoor places and crowded public events.

Similarly, work from home will no longer be mandatory for private companies and large events, trade fairs, exhibitions, entertainment shows, and concert halls can be held with no seating restrictions or limitations for attendees. Earlier, there was a cap on major events with a maximum of 2,000 people indoors and 5,000 people outdoors.

The government will also distribute free FFP2 masks – the duck beak-shaped masks that can filter the finest dust and aerosol particles – in pharmacies to immunocompromised people.

Since December, France has been recording an unprecedented surge in COVID-19 cases – the highest daily count topped over 500,000 cases last week, raising concerns of burdening the hospital infrastructure.

Those fears have gradually waned with low fatality rate, the adoption of the vaccine pass, restricting entry for unvaccinated people in public places, and administering the booster shot.

Attal warned that though there is a decline in the trend on positive cases, the hospital situation remains fragile with over 30,000 patients linked to coronavirus infections admitted in the hospitals. The daily count of COVID-19 cases continues to be high with an average of 300,000 infections.

The second round of relaxation of rules, to be followed on Feb. 16, will involve the resumption of nightclubs and standing concerts.

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