UPDATED: France and Austria to allow nightclubs to reopen in July, minister says

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The French and Austrian governments plan to allow nightclubs to reopen in July.

In France, Health Minister Olivier Veran said allowing the industry to operate again for the first time since it was shut during the first COVID-19 lockdown ordered in March 2020.

Veran said the government was working on safety protocols for the reopening with details to be announced next week, after President Emmanuel Macron said earlier this month an update on nightclub operations would be made on June 21.

“In July, nightclubs are expected to reopen with specific requirements”, Veran told France’s BFM television. He gave no precise date.

More than 100 nightclubs out of 1,600 in France have closed permanently due to the pandemic crisis, according to hospitality trade union UMIH.

France eased its third nationwide lockdown – meant to rein in the coronavirus outbreak – last month with the reopening of terraces on May 19. Last week, restaurants, bars and cafes were allowed to reopen for indoor service for the first time in seven months.

The government said on Wednesday a night-time curfew would end from June 20 as the pandemic situation was improving faster than anticipated. 

Meanwhile, Austria has also announced that revellers will be allowed to hit the dance floor legally again from next month as nightclubs reopen, in line with a broader easing of measures.

Medical-grade masks also will no longer need to be worn anywhere except for hospitals, with regular mouth-and-nose coverings once again allowed on public transport, in shops and other indoor places.

Crowd numbers will no longer be restricted at events, where people do not need to keep their distance or wear face coverings anymore. A midnight curfew will also be lifted from 1 July, allowing nightlife to return.

The only rule that remains is that those who attend an event, go to a nightclub or eat in a restaurant must show proof of either having received at least one vaccination shot more than three weeks ago, recovered from coronavirus or tested negative.

Nightclubs closed in March last year as the pandemic spread through Europe and were among the few venues that mostly stayed shut last summer during a lull in new cases.

Almost half of the population has already received at least one shot, while a quarter is fully vaccinated.

Photo: French Health Minister Olivier Veran. EPA-EFE/CHRISTOPHE SIMON / POOL