French Prime Minister Jean Castex has tonight (December 27) announced a series of new measures to combat the double wave of Delta and Omicron variants impacting the country.
These include obligatory mask wearing in all town centres, banning the consumption of food and drinks on TGVs and other public transport, limiting large events and reinforcing work from home.
There will, however, be no curfew for New Year’s eve and the return to school, due on January 3, will go ahead as planned.
Mr Castex said: “The fifth wave brought by Delta is far from being finished…And a new wave is sweeping across our continent with the Omicron variant, with 100,000 cases per day [in France].”
He reiterated that the vaccines were the “decisive element” to stem the spread of the variants and protect people from serious forms of Covid.
Health Minister Olivier Véran, also present at the press conference, said that a fourth vaccination dose was a “possibility”.
“We are working [on this] with our European counterparts, and with Israel, which was the first to start vaccinating. We are totally open to this prospect,” he said.
“If I have to go to the French people and tell them that a new dose is necessary, I will do it,” he added.
11 key points announced by the prime minister:
- People can benefit from a Covid booster three months after their second injection (this is instead of four months as is currently the case). This will begin from tomorrow morning (December 28)
- A new bill to allow the health pass (pass sanitaire) to be turned into vaccine pass is to be put to parliament. If adopted, this would apply to restaurants, bars, museums, gyms, cinemas and other shared public spaces. The pass would only be available to vaccinated people and not, as currently, also to people with a recent negative Covid test. If voted in it would apply from January 15.
- Increase in fines for false Covid passes
- Large gatherings are to be limited to 2,000 people indoors and 5,000 outdoors. Standing concerts are banned.
- The consumption of food and drinks is to be banned in cinemas, sports facilities and on public transport, such as planes and TGV travel. This is so masks remain in place during the journey.
- Eating and drinking in cafes and restaurants will only be allowed for customers sitting at tables from January 3. This will be in place for [at least] three weeks.
- Home working will be obligatory for everyone who can do so for at least three days a week from next Monday and will remain in place for at least three weeks. If possible this should be extended to four days a week.
- Obligatory mask wearing will apply in all town centres. Prefects will adopt the measure in conjunction with mayors.
- No curfew for New Year’s Eve.
- Return to school, due to start January 3, is not deferred. There is no general rule for remote learning.
- Self-isolation period to be reduced for those who come into contact with people infected with Covid. More details on this are to be announced by the end of this week. Currently this can be 17 days for contact cases who live with a person who has tested positive for Covid.
Ce combat, ensemble, par l'esprit de responsabilité et de solidarité, nous le gagnerons. pic.twitter.com/dook9C9ddd— Jean Castex (@JeanCASTEX) December 27, 2021
The press conference followed two meetings between President Emmanuel Macron and key ministers earlier today.
A decree declaring a state of health emergency is to be made for the island of Reunion which will be extended in Martinique.
A final point, not mentioned in the press conference, is that all January New Year 'best wishes' meetings, which are traditional in France in businesses, associations and often mairies, are cancelled.
Another ministerial Covid meeting is to take place on January 5.