More governments in Europe have eased their pandemic restrictions, as authorities hailed a rapid decline in new cases on the eve of summer holidays, despite some parts of the continent still seeing a rise in cases.
France savored a fresh sense of freedom as people were allowed to remove face masks while outside for the first time since last autumn. Disneyland Paris welcomed visitors after an eight-month hiatus.
The nationwide curfew of 11 pm is to be lifted ahead of schedule on Sunday, as France's vaccination drive begins to pay off after an initially slow start.
Health Minister Olivier Veran said 60 percent of adults have now received at least one COVID-19 jab, and youths aged 12 and over are now eligible as well.
In Austria, "the situation is much better than expected," Chancellor Sebastian Kurz told reporters, although he cautioned people should not become "overconfident" until they are immunized.
The government announced partygoers will be allowed to hit the dance floor again in July as nightclubs reopen, in line with a broader easing of measures. Crowd numbers will no longer be restricted at events, where people do not need to keep their distance or wear face coverings.
A midnight curfew will also be lifted from July 1, allowing for nightlife to return.
Travelers from non-European Union countries who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will be allowed to enter Germany from June 25 unless the country is designated a virus variant area, the German Interior Ministry said on Thursday.
"Visiting trips and tourism thus become possible again for vaccinated people," said the ministry, adding individuals must have received the final required dose of their vaccine 14 days prior to travel.
Britain is also considering easing restrictions on international travel for those who are double vaccinated against COVID-19. The Daily Telegraph first reported that Britain was looking to follow the European Union's move to allow fully vaccinated tourists to avoid COVID-19 tests and quarantine from July.
But the European Medicines Agency stressed there is still a pandemic and urged EU states to use "all the vaccine options available to fight the coronavirus pandemic".
The comments came as several countries have limited the use of so-called viral vector jabs like Astra-Zeneca and Johnson & Johnson due to a link with rare blood clots, opting instead for Messenger RNA vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna.
Britain's numbers are increasing again as well. The country recorded 11,007 new cases on Thursday as the aggressive Delta variant pushed the figure above 10,000 for the first time since February.
Portugal on Thursday said it was banning weekend travel in and out of the Lisbon region due to worryingly high infection rates.