France ditches masks outdoors; will end nightly virus curfew

Teddy bears, set up by Philippe Labourel, who wants to be named 'Le papa des nounours' (Teddy Bears father) are pictured inside American vintage cars driving through Paris, Sunday, June, 13, 2021. The event took place in a show of support for the tourism industry which was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. (AP Photo/Lewis Joly)

PARIS (AP) — France is lifting mandatory mask-wearing outdoors and will halt an eight-month nightly coronavirus curfew on June 20.

The announcement Wednesday by French Prime Minister Jean Castex comes as France is now registering about 3,900 new daily virus cases on average, down from 35,000 in the March-April peak.

Castex welcomed “very good news” and said the curfew will be lifted on Sunday, ten days earlier than expected.

Over 58% of France’s adult population has received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose. On Tuesday, the European Union nation opened its vaccination programs to 12 to 18-year-olds as part of a push to protect the nation as restrictions are gradually being lifted.