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HEALTH

Where in France are gyms, sports centres and swimming pools closing under Covid-19 restrictions?

Along with early bar closing, sports facilities in many parts of France are also shutting. Here's what facilities are affected in your area.

Where in France are gyms, sports centres and swimming pools closing under Covid-19 restrictions?
Photo: AFP

In areas of 'high alert' such as Paris and its inner suburbs, gyms and sports centres will close from September 28th for a minimum of two weeks, health minister Olivier Véran announced on Wednesday.

“These are confined spaces where wearing a mask is impossible or at least complex and which are unfortunately places of significant contamination,” said Olivier Véran when justifying the decision.

READ ALSO: MAP: Where are the latest Covid-19 alert areas in France?

So how will the new rules work?

 

Firstly it depends on where you live.

The closures apply to all areas labeled as 'heightened alert' or maximum alert' on the government's new scale.

You can find about how that works HERE.

At present there are 11 areas in the 'hightened alert' category; Paris and its surrounding suburbs and the Bordeaux, Lille, Toulouse, Lyon, Saint-Étienne, Rouen, Grenoble, Rennes, and Montpellier metropole areas.

The maximum alert areas are the overseas département of Gaudeloupe and the Aix-Marseille area.

However these designations are revised weekly so keep an eye on this map for the latest.

What is closing?

All gyms and sports halls in the high risk areas will close, starting on Monday 28th. How long they will stay closed will depend on the health situation in each area, but the initial closure will be for two weeks.

What about swimming-pools and private lessons? 

The Health Minister did not mention swimming-pools in his briefing, but prime minister Jean Castex said during a TV interview on Thursday that indoor pools will close in the risk areas.

According to Véran, who was on set during the live TV show with Castex, this closure will be decided along with prefects, on the local level.

Local authorities in the affected areas have some leeway to set restrictions in their area, adapted to local conditions. Authorities in Paris are expected to release on Friday evening or Saturday morning the detailed plans for the capital.

The same applies to private sport lessons.

 

Photo: AFP

For now, outdoor swimming pools remain open, even in high alert and maximum alert areas.

In areas that are not designated as heightened or maximum risk, sport centres, gyms and indoor swimming-pools will not close, but still have to follow the strict health protocols that have been in place since they reopened in June.

No exception for Roland-Garros 

In the meantime, the French Open – which began this week and runs until October 11th after being postponed from May – will also have to adapt to the government’s latest measures.

Castex insisted the paris-based Grand Slam tournament follows the rules imposed on sports events taking place in zones where Covid-19 is showing signs of resurgence.

“We will apply the same rules at Roland Garros as elsewhere,” said Castex.

Two weeks ago event organisers said they would be able to welcome 5,000 spectators a day instead of 11,500 – the usual capacity being 20,000.

But they will now have to follow the 1,000 person maximum restriction each day (not including staff and media).

READ ALSO: Protests in Covid-hit Marseille over order to close bars and restaurants

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HEALTH

Children under five eligible for Covid-19 vaccinations in France

French health authorities have launched a campaign to vaccinate children under the age of five in certain high-risk groups against the Covid-19 virus.

Children under five eligible for Covid-19 vaccinations in France

According to reporting by Le Parisien, France’s public health body (the DGS) sent a message out to health professionals on Thursday night informing them that they had launched the campaign for children under the age of five in certain risk categories to be vaccinated against the virus.

The French medical regulator (HAS) had previously recommended that certain groups of children in certain high-risk groups – such as those with serious illnesses or those living with an immunocompromised parent – be vaccinated from the age of six months.

Previously those children could be vaccinated in hospitals and specialised centres, but starting on Monday, January 23rd, children under the age of five who are eligible for vaccination against Covid-19 will be able to be vaccinated by a doctor, midwife or nurse.

READ MORE: Paxlovid and vaccines: The latest Covid advice from the French government

The HAS released a list of conditions that would make children under the age of five eligible for vaccination, including;

  • Liver disease
  • Heart and respiratory diseases (including severe asthma requiring continuous treatment)
  • Neurological diseases
  • Primary or drug-induced immunodeficiency
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Hematologic malignancies
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Trisomy 2
  • Children who live in the same environment as an immunocompromised person

France’s decision to authorise vaccination for certain young children came after several other countries, such as the United States did so.

According to L’Obs, babies “under one year old accounted for 70 percent of hospitalisations for children aged 0-17 years old and 84 percent of critical care admissions.”

When authorising children under five for vaccinations, the HAS noted that so far “no deaths, cases of myocarditis or pericarditis have been reported in the various studies conducted.”

How to vaccinate your child 

First, you must verify whether your child under the age of five is eligible for the vaccine by checking the list of high-risk groups above.

Next, you should consult your child’s doctor, as a prescription will be necessary for them to be vaccinated. 

Both parents must agree to the child being vaccinated by filling out the authorisation form HERE, according to the DGS. 

The vaccination schedule will differ for children under the age of five. They will be given a lower dose of the vaccine – specifically the Pfizer-BioNTech shot – and it will be delivered in three total injections, rather than two. 

The interval between the first two will be three weeks, and the interval between the second and third jabs will be at least eight weeks.

Even if the child has had Covid, “all three doses should be given, to ensure optimal protection,” the DGS told medical professionals, according to Le Parisien. However, if the child becomes sick with Covid-19 during the vaccination schedule, it can be revised so that there is an interval of at least three months from infection and vaccination.

According to the HAS, citing data from a clinical trial conducted in the first half of 2022, three doses of the vaccine was 80.3 percent effective against symptomatic infections “in all age groups from 6 months to 4 years with no history of infection.”

What about kids over the age 5?

All children aged five to 11 have been eligible for Covid-19 vaccination since December 2021 in France (children aged 11 and over were already eligible). Despite this eligibility, only about five percent of children in this group have been vaccinated, giving France one of the lowest levels of vaccination for young children in Europe. 

While Covid-19 represents a greater risk for older children and adults, according to L’Obs, severe illness and death can also occur in children. 

READ MORE: Can anybody in France now get the latest Covid booster vaccine?

As of January 20th, the French government still required that children aged five to 11 have both parents or guardians (if both have legal parental authority) provide authorisation prior to vaccination against Covid-19.

Prior to being vaccinated, there will be a pre-vaccination medical interview (on-site) where the medical professional will ensure that the child does not have any conditions, answer any questions the child or parents may have, and finally provide a prescription for the vaccination.

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