French President Emmanuel Macron has announced that sports venues will be able to reopen from May 19 as the country seeks to come out of its latest COVID-19 lockdown.

France entered a third national lockdown on April 3, following a steep rise in infections blamed on COVID-19 variants. Macron has now detailed a four-phase roadmap out of lockdown, with sports bodies and clubs set to be affected from the second stage.

On May 19, outdoor sporting venues can reopen with capacity capped at 1,000, while cultural venues such as museums, cinemas, and theatres can allow a maximum capacity of 800 indoor and 1,000 outdoor. This will be based on the epidemiological situation across France, with areas where the incidence rate is over 400 cases per 100,000 not being allowed to proceed.

From June 9, capacities for both sports and cultural venues will be increased to 5,000, but people wanting to attend would need to produce a health pass. Macron stated that while these passes would not be compulsory to access places of everyday life such as restaurants, theatres and cinemas, they could be necessary in places with significant crowds such as stadiums.

The final stage on June 30 would see the majority of restrictions lifted, with access to any event bringing together more than 1,000 people outdoors and indoors allowed with a health pass. Maximum capacities would be tailored according to the type of events and where in the country they are held.

France is currently the second most-impacted country in the European Union and has recorded nearly 104,000 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. Macron said specific details behind the reopening plan will be announced by Prime Minister Jean Castex in the week commencing May 10.

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