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Ski resorts in France to remain closed due to ‘steep rise in Covid-19 cases’

France's ski resorts will not be able to reopen on January 7th as initially planned, France's Secretary of State for tourism confirmed on Wednesday.

Ski resorts in France to remain closed due to 'steep rise in Covid-19 cases'
Skiing is allowed in France, but ski lifts remain closed for the moment. Photo: AFP
Prime Minister Jean Castex and Health Minister Olivier Véran will hold a press conference on Thursday at 6pm to review Covid-19 restrictions, and ski resorts were hoping they would get the green light to finally open and being forced to close for the early part of the season.

READ ALSO: What can we expect from the French government's Covid-19 announcement?

But Secretary of State for tourism Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne told AFP that in light of “a rather steep rise in terms of new (Covid-19) cases and intensive care admissions”, the government had decided to push back the date.

France on Wednesday recorded 25,379 new Covid-19 cases over the past 24 hours, up from 20,489 the preceding day, and far above the weekly average of around 13,000.

Hospital intensive care wards admitted another 234 patients, a number that has been stable the past few days, but the government fears it will rise following a predicted spike in viral transmissions during the Christmas break.

READ ALSO The graphs and numbers that show the latest Covid-19 situation in France

 

Unlike neighbouring Switzerland, France has kept its ski resorts closed since the end of lockdown in early December.

While the government has allowed travel to the mountains and ski resorts, ski lifts and all other infrastructure had to keep shut, ruling out most winter sports. 

Alpine areas are among the ones the hardest affected by Covid-19, which is one of the reasons that the government worries about relaxing rules on skiing activities.
 

Lemoyne said the ski sector would not get a new reopening date until after a Defence Council meeting next week.
 
“The government is well aware of that the sector needs clarity and we are committed to providing this for the rest of the season as quickly as possible,” Lemoyne said.
 
Across France all bars, cafés and restaurants remain shut as well, along with cinemas, theatres and other cultural establishments. The French government has already confirmed that it intends to postpone the reopening of both these sectors in light of the current health situation.

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HEALTH

Reader Question: Can I get a third Covid booster shot in France?

As France launches its autumn vaccine campaign, almost half of those eligible for the second booster jab in France have already received it. This has left some wondering whether they could qualify for a third booster, using the new dual-strain vaccines.

Reader Question: Can I get a third Covid booster shot in France?

Question: I’m in my 70s and I had my second booster back in the summer but now I see that the new dual-strain vaccines are available – should I be getting an extra booster with the new type of vaccine?

French health authorities launched the autumn booster campaign on October 3rd includes newly authorised dual-strain vaccines – such as the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine adapted to BA.1, the Moderna vaccine adapted to BA.1, and the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine adapted to BA.4/5 – which are designed to combat the Omicron variant.

It will be followed by the seasonal flu vaccination campaign in mid October.

READ MORE: When, where and how to get flu shots and Covid boosters this autumn in France

In France, about 6.3 million people have received a second booster dose, “or 41 percent of the eligible population,” said the Directorate General of Health (DGS) to Ouest France.

Currently only those in high risk groups are eligible for a second booster shot, including pregnant women, the elderly those with medical conditions or carers – find the full list here.

As almost half of the eligible population have already received a fourth vaccine, many are wondering whether they will be eligible for a fifth (or third booster) in order to access the new dual-strain vaccine.  

According to Virginie, a representative from HAS – France’s health authority – the organisation “no longer thinks in terms of doses for high-risk people and immunocompromised patients.”

Specifically, the HAS recommends that a new injection be given – and if possible one of the dual-strain vaccines – “regardless of the number of injections received up to now”.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Who qualifies for a second Covid vaccine booster in France?

However, French health authorities specified that the additional booster should “respect the minimum recommended time between two doses.”

“This depends based on your profile – for people aged 80 and over, residents of nursing homes or long-term care units (USLD) and those who are immunocompromised, the wait-time is three months between jabs. For the others, the delay is set at six months.”

For those who have already been infected by Covid-19, the HAS recommends that if you are eligible for a second (or third booster) that the additional dose “is still recommended, with a minimum delay of three months after infection.”

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