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COVID-19

Beer, rosé wine and cigarettes – what the French are buying during lockdown

Sales of beer and rosé wine in French supermarkets have seen an increase - bucking an overall trend that has seen French people buy significantly less alcohol since the start of the nationwide lockdown.

Beer, rosé wine and cigarettes - what the French are buying during lockdown
Sun's out, rosé is out. Photo: AFP

Sales of alcohol overall fell by 16 percent in the first two weeks of the strict new rules, figures from sales body Neilson show – despite the closure of the country's cafés and bars.

Between 13th and 29th – the four days before lockdown and 13 days afterwards – the sale of total consumer goods in France rose by 26 percent compared to the same period in 2019.

Many people stocked up in the days before the lockdown was imposed – although there was much less of the panic buying seen in the UK and Australia.

But it seems that alcohol was not on people's shopping lists and even the growing popularity of apéro Sykpe – online drinks with friends – doesn't seem to have picked up sales of alcohol in supermarkets.

Sales of rosé wine lifted by 3.2 percent – probably due to the pleasant warm weather – and beer by 6.9 percent.

READ ALSO Apéro Skype time? France's evening drinks ritual on lockdown

But most other types of alcohol sales fell with champagne suffering the worst fall of 52.5 percent as people probably felt there was little to celebrate.

Sales at France's tabacs also rose – by up to 30 percent in some cases – although experts say that is in part accounted for by people no longer being able to travel over the border and get cheaper cigarettes (not that it stopped this man from trying).

Jacques Lebel, general manager for France of Ab InBev brewery told French media: “Beer has suffered less than other alcohols, but we are on a very low growth rate and not accelerating compared to the historical trends of recent years.”

Grocery stores and supermarkets remain open in France and there are no restrictions on buying alcohol to drink at home – despite one French local authority's attempt to ban the sale of all alcohol. They have now rowed back on this plan.

 

 

 

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HEALTH

French government calls on over-60s to get second Covid booster as cases rise

As Covid cases show a significant rise in France in recent weeks, the government is calling on all eligible groups to get a second Covid vaccine booster shot.

French government calls on over-60s to get second Covid booster as cases rise

After a 40 percent rise in Covid-19 cases in the last week, the French Health ministry is calling all eligible people – including over 60s and those health conditions – to receive their second booster (fourth dose) of the vaccine.

“It is necessary to redouble our efforts to protect vulnerable people, this is done through vaccination and this campaign of second boosters is absolutely necessary,” said the ministry of health.

The Covid incidence rate is increasing in more than 50 départements across France. Currently, there are an average of 50,000 positive tests per day, which has also been accompanied by an increase in hospitalisations. 

“This is very clearly a reprisal of the epidemic linked to the arrival of new variants of the Omicron family, which are called BA4 BA5,” said infectious disease specialist Anne-Claude Crémieux to Franceinfo. Crémieux added that these variants are faster-spreading.

Therefore, the government is calling on vulnerable people to take their second booster dose (the fourth dose of the vaccine).

So far, only a quarter of eligible people have taken their second booster dose, with an average rate of 25,000 to 30,000 injections per day for the past two months.

“This is not enough, and it is not going fast enough,” urged the Ministry of Health on Tuesday.

The Haute autorité de santé also recently released its recommendation for a vaccination campaign to give a second Covid vaccine booster shot for the wider population, starting in October. 

The HAS recommendation advises starting France’s annual flu vaccine campaign in mid October (mid September for the French overseas territory of Mayotte) and combining it with a campaign to give a second Covid vaccine booster ahead of a possible new wave of Covid in the winter. 

At present although the great majority of the French adult population is vaccinated against Covid with two doses and a booster, a second booster is only recommended for people in high risk groups such as the over 60s and those with long-term health conditions.

The HAS recommendation reads: “At the end of May, the HAS recommended preparing for a booster shot campaign for people most at risk of developing the most severe forms of Covid, and envisaged a booster shot for healthcare workers.

“Those parts of the population most at risk are also those for whom the seasonal flu vaccination is recommended, therefore for logistical reasons the HAS recommends combining the two campaigns.”

The flu campaign is advised to go ahead as normal, starting in mid-October.

The HAS only makes recommendations, the details of policy are up to the government, but it usually follows HAS advice.

The usual seasonal flu campaign in France offers a vaccine for free to anyone in a high risk group, which includes the elderly, people with underling health conditions, healthcare workers and pregnant women – full details HERE on how to get the vaccine.

Those who don’t fit into those categories can still access the vaccine, but must pay for it – €6-€10 for the vaccine and the standard appointment charge to have it administered by a doctor (€25, with 70 percent reimbursed for those with a carte vitale).

The flu vaccine is available from family doctors, midwives and participating pharmacies once the campaign officially launches.

The Covid vaccine is also available from family doctors, midwives and pharmacies, but most of the vaccine centres set up in 2021 have now been closed down.

There is currently no suggestion a return of the health pass, so a second booster shot would be entirely voluntary, but the government has the power to re-introduce such measures if a major wave of Covid hits France over the autumn and winter.

Currently, there are no plans to lower the age minimum (as of now set at 60 years old) for receiving a second booster. Health authorities believe that the immune response after a first booster “continues to sufficiently protect” younger adults.

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