France has seen a sharp rise in Covid cases in recent days, as the fifth wave – already seen in neighbouring countries such as Germany and Belgium – hits.
Véran, together with education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer and health of public health Jérôme Salomon, held press conference on Thursday to announce new measures.
He ruled out imposing another lockdown or a curfew at this stage in the fight against a fifth wave of infections, which he described as “stronger and longer” than the previous wave this summer.
“We can get through this wave without using the most restrictive tools” used by some European countries to fight the spread of the virus, Veran said.
Here’s a breakdown of what was announced:
- Vaccine boosters will from Saturday, November 27th, be open to all over 18s, and people will be eligible five months after their second dose – a change from the previous rule of six months. Full details on the new eligibility conditions HERE
- The government had already announced that the health passes for over 65s who are eligible for a booster but do not have one will be deactivated from December 15th. This will be extended to the whole of the population from January 15th. The health pass will be deactivated seven months after each person received their second dose – giving them two months between becoming eligible and having the pass deactivated in order to book an appointment for the booster shot full details on how this works HERE
- A further change to the health pass was announced – negative Covid tests will be valid for the pass only for 24 hours. Unvaccinated people are able to use a negative test – either a PCR or antigen test – in order to access the pass. At present a test is valid for the pass for 72 hours, but now will only be valid for 24 hours, meaning that unvaccinated people face daily tests in order to use the pass. Tests for unvaccinated people with no symptoms cost €22 for an antigen test and €44 for a PCR test.
- Masks will become again compulsory in all indoor spaces – even those covered by the health pass such as cinemas, theatres, tourist sites, bars, cafés, night clubs and restaurants. For venues like bars and restaurants the previous mask rules will be reinstated – a mask is required while moving through the venue but not when seated and eating or drinking
- Masks will also become compulsory for large gatherings outdoors, such as Christmas markets, which could also require a health pass.
- A new antiviral medication, molnupiravir, will be available to people at high risk from Covid, who will be able to get it in pharmacies.
- Schools will see a change in policy, as primary school classes will no longer close after a single Covid case. Instead pupils will be regularly tested and only sent home if they test positive. This follows a pilot project that has been running in 10 areas. Full details on the new protocol HERE
Following a meeting of the Defence Council on Wednesday, the government has been running a hasty consultation with local authorities and other sectors on new measures to stem the rapid rise in Covid cases.
“We have destiny in our hands. Vaccination is the only responsible choice,” said Véran.
“To be free is to be responsible.”