A slow reopening continues in France, and other news from around the world.
France, which has seen its coronavirus situation improve in recent weeks, is beginning its third phase of a gradual reopening. Indoor service in bars, cafes and restaurants will be allowed to resume, although at limited capacity, and terraces will be able to operate at 100 percent capacity.
And a nighttime curfew will be moved back to 11 p.m. from 9 p.m.
President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday that the previous phase three weeks ago, which relaxed coronavirus restrictions for outdoor dining in place since the fall, “was a real success.”
“I want to thank the French people because what we are doing is very demanding but everyone is holding on — that’s why we have these results,” Mr. Macron told BFM TV, adding that he was filled with a “somewhat cautious optimism” about the coming weeks.
The improvement is largely a result of a vaccination campaign that has gathered speed over the past two months, after being hampered for weeks by logistical issues and AstraZeneca’s various missteps in delivering its vaccine.
France is now vaccinating about half a million people on average every weekday. Some 28 million people, about 42 percent of the total population, have received at least a first shot of vaccine, while 12 million people are fully vaccinated.
The number of new daily infections has dropped in France from 20,000 at the beginning of May to 6,000 on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the number of patients in intensive care units has fallen below 3,000 after peaking at 6,000 in late April.
“We have a virus that is less circulating,” Jean-Francois Delfraissy, the head of the government’s scientific council, told RTL radio on Tuesday, adding that coronavirus figures were “falling more rapidly than we had imagined.”
The government started its reopening on May 3 by allowing schools to reopen and lifting limits on travel from home. Then came the reopening of restaurant and cafe terraces in mid-May.
France is also reopening on Wednesday for international tourism, removing the need for coronavirus tests for vaccinated Europeans and allowing vaccinated tourists from most of the rest of the world, including the United States, to also come back but with a negative test in hand.
Mr. Delfraissy said that the summer “should go well” but added that he expected a rebound of infections in the fall, though on a much smaller scale than last fall.
In other news around the world:
A two-week lockdown in Melbourne, Australia, will be eased beginning on Friday after outbreaks of the infectious Delta and Kappa coronavirus variants were contained, officials said. Schools and shops in Australia’s second-largest city will be allowed to reopen, and residents will be permitted to leave their homes for nonessential purposes. But people will still be barred from having visitors at home, and from traveling more than 25 kilometers, or about 16 miles, from where they live, as concerns linger over possible community spread of the virus. Officials reported just one new case on Wednesday, down from a peak earlier this month, when there were 94 active cases.
Cafes and restaurants in Belgium resumed indoor service on Wednesday, the first step of the country’s “summer plan” that also includes the reopening of gyms, cinemas and concert venues in limited capacity. As the European soccer championship begins on Friday, with Belgium among the favorites, gatherings of up to 400 people are also allowed, including in front of giant screens. Belgium’s prime minister, Alexander De Croo, said on Twitter: “Be cautious, but most of all: enjoy!”
In China, the Institute of Medical Biology at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences on Wednesday delivered the first doses of its Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use domestically, according to the government newspaper Science and Technology Daily. Like other leading vaccines developed by Chinese organizations, including Sinopharm and Sinovac, the shot uses inactivated coronaviruses to develop immunity. The report did not indicate if or when doses of the new vaccine would be administered. In total, China has administered more than 800 million vaccine doses, health officials said.