France extends Covid-19 vaccination to all adults from May 31, ahead of initial target
Everyone in France aged 18 and over will be able to get vaccinated against Covid-19 starting on May 31, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced on Thursday, about two weeks ahead of the originally planned date of June 15.
Castex announced the new date during a visit to a vaccination centre on Thursday.
He added that those working in designated priority professions in the public or private sectors, including teachers, police officers, cashiers and bus drivers, would be eligible from May 24.
The government has recently relaxed conditions and age limits for getting the vaccine in order to remain on track to meeting its vaccination targets.
The French on Wednesday joyfully made their way back to cafés, cinemas and museums as the country loosened restrictions in a return to semi-normality after more than six months of Covid-19 curbs. The long-standing 7pm curfew was pushed back to 9pm.
Cafés and restaurants with terraces or rooftop gardens can now offer outdoor dining, under the second phase of a lockdown-lifting plan that should culminate in a full reopening of the economy on June 30.
Museums, cinemas and some theatres are also reopening after being closed for 203 days. Non-essential businesses from toys to clothes shops, which had been closed since early April, also reopened Wednesday.
The loosening of the restrictions comes as a severe third wave of Covid-19 infections continues to abate. The number of patients in intensive care fell to 3,862 on Wednesday, down from around 6,000 a month ago. Over the last seven days, the number of new cases has fallen by 18 percent.
After a slow start, the government's vaccination drive has accelerated, with more than 21.5 million people, nearly a third of the population, having received at least one shot.
"If we manage to organise ourselves, vaccinate and maintain collective discipline, there is no reason that we cannot continue to progress," Macron said.
But he added: "We need to remain rigorous on the question of variants," the new and sometimes more virulent strains of the original Covid-19 virus.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)
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