France will ease its domestic travel restrictions next month as the prime minister declared its “third wave” over, raising hopes the country could reopen to British visitors sooner than expected.

Jean Castex said the third national lockdown would be wound down from May 3, with residents able to travel anywhere within France; outdoor areas of bars and restaurants will also be able to open from mid-May, he said.

“The third wave of the disease is behind us,” Castex told a news conference.

The move opens the door to France’s addition to the UK’s ‘green’ list when international travel resumes for Britons from May 17. The UK Government is expected to reveal the list on May 7.

However, France’s average rate of new infections remains one of the highest in  Europe, fifth behind only Cyprus, Sweden, Turkey, and Croatia. Its seven-day average cases rate per 100,000 is 341 compared to the UK’s 26.

Interior minister Gerald Darmanin said fresh quarantine measures would be imposed on travelers returning to France from a number of countries, including South Africa and India, in an effort to halt the spread of new variants.