Prime Minister Jean Castex outlined tonight (January 7) new Covid-related measures at a press conference.
These include the extension of the travel ban on visitors from the UK, the continuation and possible extension of the curfew in ten more departments, the plan to vaccinate a million people this month and earliest date for the reopening of restaurants and cafés.
“Even if the virus is circulating slightly less in France than in most neighbouring countries, the situation is far from back to normal,” said Mr Castex.
The number of Covid-19 cases in France remains high and has increased since mid-December, rising from an average of 10,000 to 15,000 daily cases, the prime minister said. The number of cases confirmed in the latest 24 hour period is 25,379.
Mr Castex said that the “health situation has become more fragile in the past few weeks” and that the effects of Christmas and New Year celebrations would not be felt until next week.
“Every day we are seeing 2,500 hospitalisations and half of the intensive care unit beds are now occupied by a Covid-19 patient,” he added.
“The situation is deteriorating in some areas more rapidly than elsewhere. This is the case in the east of the country."
Key points of his speech
- The ban on people in the UK travelling to France will remain in place until further notice to minimise spreading the new British variant of the virus.
Read more about that here: France's travel ban on UK to remain ‘until further notice’
- Bars, restaurants and cafés will remain closed until at least mid-February. The reopening of sports centres, cinemas, theatres, museums and ski lifts will be reviewed on January 20 to decide on a possible reopening at the start of February;
- Ten additional departments (located in the east of the country but not yet specified) could have their curfew brought forward to 18:00. The decision will be taken tomorrow evening (January 8) to come into effect from Sunday. The existing national 20:00 curfew will be maintained and reviewed on January 20;
- “I cannot rule out that we will have to take additional national measures in the coming days if needed,” the prime minister said.
Key points on testing and the vaccination campaign
- People over 75 (living at home, rather than in care homes) can be vaccinated from Monday, January 18;
- People with disabilities in specialised institutions are now also able to be vaccinated. Currently care home residents, the homes' staff and medical workers aged 50 and above are being vaccinated;
- 45,000 people in the above groups have been vaccinated in the last five days;
- France is the only country in Europe to offer free tests to all its population. In the UK the cost can be £350 and €100 in Germany;
- Covid-19 vaccinations will take place in special centres with 600 such centres due to open in January;
- A system to book vaccination appointments will be set up online at www.sante.fr from January 14 and initially aimed at people aged 75 and over. A telephone number will also be launched to guide callers to a vaccination centre near them;
- Health authorities have approved leaving a six-week delay between doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, instead of three weeks, in order to speed up the rollout;
- The process for getting vaccinated will be simplified. It will involve booking an appointment, going to your nearest vaccination centre where you fill out a short questionnaire with a nurse, detailing health issues and whether you have already had Covid, signing consent and then getting vaccinated;
- Doctors, nurses, pharmacy workers will be able to carry out vaccination;
- 500,000 doses of the vaccine will be delivered every week until the end of February;
- One million people will be vaccinated by the end of January. “This will be in line with our European neighbours,” said Mr Castex;
- From January 10, anyone who works and displays symptoms of Covid-19 or anyone who has been a contact case will be able to register on the Assurance maladie website to get an sick leave certificate (arrêt maladie) with immediate compensation;
The Assurance maladie team will follow up with two to three phone calls over the next week. Every person declared positive will be offered a home visit by a nurse from January 20 onwards.