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‘Out of control’: Southern French city of Nice braces for new Covid curbs

The French Riviera city of Nice was on Sunday, February 21st, preparing to face a new set of local restrictions against Covid-19 to combat an outbreak described as out of control and spreading much faster than elsewhere in France.

'Out of control': Southern French city of Nice braces for new Covid curbs
Image: Valery Hache / AFP

Health Minister Olivier Veran said after visiting a Nice hospital this weekend the measures could include a stricter form of the curfew imposed nationwide in France or a weekend lockdown in the city.

A decision was expected later Sunday February 21st or on Monday February 22nd, with Nice recording 700 positive cases per 100,000 inhabitants, three times the national average.

“Consultations will be conducted over the weekend to take additional measures to stem the epidemic, ranging from a reinforced curfew to local lockdown at weekends,” Veran said.

France has so far avoided imposing a third nationwide lockdown to fight the virus, in contrast with some of its neighbours, in what analysts see as a risky gamble by President Emmanuel Macron to allow the economy to gain some
steam.

If agreed, the new restrictions would likely extend over all the southern Alpes-Maritimes region which includes Nice, but not beyond.

Senior French hospitals official Remi Salomon described the epidemic on BFMTV as “out of control” in the region and said measures taken in recent weeks have not been sufficient.

Local right-wing MP Eric Ciotti told the Nice Matin newspaper that the decision appeared to have already been taken and a weekend lockdown was on the cards.

This measure has long been urged by Nice’s high-profile Mayor Christian Estrosi, also a member of right-wing party The Republicans, even if his opinion is not shared by all fellow mayors along the coast.

Currently mainland France has a nightly curfew beginning at 6pm. The only part of the country with a lockdown in place is the Indian Ocean island of Mayotte where the measure has been in effect since February 5th.

The curfew has been credited with keeping a lid on infection rates but government spokesman Gabriel Attal said on French TV late Saturday the latest trends were “not good”.

After a slow start, France’s vaccination campaign has gained some momentum with more than 2.5 million people receiving a dose and, of those, over 1.1 million have had both doses.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

The UK is set to scrap all Covid-19 travel restrictions in what the government described as a "landmark moment".

Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

Testing is no longer required for vaccinated travellers, but the UK government has announced that it will scrap all Covid-19 travel rules on Friday, March 18th.

“As one of the first major economies to remove all its remaining Covid-19 travel restrictions, this is a landmark moment for passengers and the travel and aviation sector,” said the Government in a press release. 

From 4am on March 18th:

  • Passengers going to the UK will no longer be required to fill out a Passenger Locator Form before travel;
  • Passengers who are not vaccinated will not be required to take a pre-departure Covid test, or a Day 2 test following arrival. Fully vaccinated travellers are already exempt from having to do this;
  • Hotel quarantine for travellers coming from ‘red list’ countries, of which there are currently none, will also be scrapped by the end of the month. 

“We will continue monitoring and tracking potential new variants, and keep a reserve of measures which can be rapidly deployed if needed to keep us safe,” said UK Health Minister Sajid Javid. 

The UK has lifted all Covid-related rules including mask rules and mandatory self-isolation if you test positive for Covid.

Some European countries still have Covid restrictions in place for unvaccinated people coming from the UK. 

Until March 18th

Until the new rules come into effect, all travellers are required to fill out a passenger locator form. 

Unvaccinated travellers are also required to take pre-departure test and a test on or before Day 2 following their arrival. 

The UK border officers will recognise proof of vaccination provided with an EU Covid Certificate.

For the UK “fully vaccinated” means 14 days after your final dose of a EMA/FDA or Swiss approved vaccine (Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson). 

After a period of confusion, the UK government says that it will accept mixed doses administered in the EU (eg one dose of AstraZeneca and one of Pfizer).

However people who have only had a single dose after previously recovering from Covid – which is standard practice in some European countries – are not accepted as vaccinated by the UK.

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