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France further eases COVID restrictions on masks and health passes

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By Euronews  with AP, AFP
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Customers no longer have to wear facemasks at a market in Biarritz, southwestern France.
Customers no longer have to wear facemasks at a market in Biarritz, southwestern France.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Bob Edme

France has lifted most of the country's COVID-19 restrictions on Monday despite a steady rise in infections.

Citizens no longer need to wear face masks in most indoor areas, while unvaccinated citizens are permitted to enter bars, restaurants, theatres, and other venues.

In hospitals and nursing homes, unvaccinated people must still provide a recent negative test or proof of recent recovery to enter.

The move had been announced earlier this month by the French government amid an improving situation in hospitals and following weeks of a steady decline in infections.

But in recent days, the number of new coronavirus cases has started increasing again, raising concerns from some scientists it may be too soon to lift restrictions.

The number of new infections has reached more than 60,000 based on a seven-day average, up from about 50,000 a week earlier.

"Now you don't have to wear a mask or show your pass, and we were all waiting for that," French Health minister Olivier Véran said on Twitter.

"But today, as yesterday, vulnerable people or those in the presence of fragile people, should remain vigilant, maintain the barrier gestures."

Although facemasks are not mandatory in schools, shops and offices, they are still required on public transport and at hospitals and other health facilities.

France's Prime Minister Jean Castex has conceded that there is a "resumption of cases", but has ruled out "changing strategy".

More than 92% of people age 12 and older in France are fully vaccinated.