France has introduced a raft of new restrictions that include the return of masks outdoors, new mandatory work-from-home rules and a cap on mass gatherings as part of an emergency strategy aimed at curbing runaway Covid-19 infections that set new records over the holidays.
In select cities, masks will become mandatory in outdoor public spaces. Currently, masks are obligatory in public transport and indoor spaces.
Workers will also be required to work a minimum of three days a week from home where possible, over the next three weeks, starting tomorrow.
Large gatherings will be restricted to 2,000 people at indoor events, and 5,000 people at outdoor events beginning Jan. 3. The consumption of food and drink must also be done while seated to avoid large gatherings, while food and drink will be banned altogether in theatres, gyms and on all public transportation.
Emmanuel Macron leads a special cabinet meeting during which the new restrictions were decided
Credit: NICOLAS TUCAT
The delay between the second vaccine jab and the booster shot has also been shortened from four to three months, while the proliferation of fake passes will be sanctioned, Prime Minister Jean Castex warned.
The prime minister also confirmed the conversion of the health pass, which currently allows the unvaccinated to access restaurants, bars, museums, gyms and other public venues upon proof of a negative test or proof of recovery, into a vaccine pass.
As of Jan. 15, proof of vaccination will be required to dine out, take the train for long distance travel, watch a movie and visit an exhibition. Details of the draft proposal are expected to be finalised in the coming weeks.
However, fears of school closures and a New Year’s Eve curfew never materialised.
Coronavirus France Spotlight Chart – Cases default
The government had previously announced the cancellation of New Year’s Eve events organised by municipalities such as concerts and fireworks, including festivities that were planned on the Champs-Élysées. Large gatherings and the consumption of alcohol in public spaces will also be banned on the evening of Dec. 31.
On Christmas Day, France set a new infection record, passing the 100,000-mark for the first time since the pandemic broke out, as people scrambled to get tested in advance of large holiday gatherings.
While the government had stopped short of imposing new restrictions for Christmas, officials repeatedly advised people to get tested before reuniting with loved ones in order to reduce the risk of transmission. On Dec. 25, after setting and breaking infection records for two days in a row, France registered its all-time peak with 104,611 new infections over 24 hours.