TODAY: What Covid measures are the French government set to announce?

French government ministers will hold a press conference on Thursday where they are expected to announce new measures as Covid cases rise, here's what we can expect.

French Health Minister, Olivier Véran, will announce new Covid-19 restrictions on Thursday.
French Health Minister, Olivier Véran, will announce new Covid-19 restrictions on Thursday. (Photo by STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN / AFP)

Speaking after a meeting of the Defence Council on Wednesday, government spokesman Gabriel Attal said consultations are currently ongoing on the new measures with local representatives and other sectors.

He announced that Health Minister Olivier Véran will hold a press conference on Thursday to detail the new measures. He will be joined the Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer and the head of public health Jérôme Salomon.

READ ALSO French government set to announce new restrictions as Covid cases rise

Attal did not give details on what the new measures would involve, but said it would include “strengthening barrier gestures and mask-wearing” and increased checks on the use of the health pass.

France has registered more than 30,000 new Covid cases in the last 24 hours. 

Over the weekend, France’s Scientific Council urged the government to enforce mask wearing measures in ‘certain places’ but did not specify where. Some local authorities are already enforcing mask wearing in outside or ‘open’ spaces. It is possible that these regulations become more widespread. 

Since then, leaked information reported by the French media has hinted that the following measures will be announced – although for confirmation we will have to wait until the press conference at 12.30.

Booster doses for everyone 

Booster doses, according to media reports, will be opened up to all, accelerating the current timetable of opening up only to over 50s from December 1st.

The waiting time between second and third (booster) dose will also be reduced to be reduced from 6 months to 5 months, making a large tranche of people eligible now for a booster.

It also reported that the boosters will not just be available to all, but required to continue using the health pass. Those who want to be able to carry on using their health pass to access various public venues will have to have a booster dose within seven months of having their second dose (or their first dose if they were vaccinated with the Janssen shot), according to French media. 

Covid tests

Currently, it is possible to display a negative Covid test (PCR or antigen) in lieu of having been vaccinated, to use the French health pass to access public venues. At present, these tests are valid for 72 hours, but it is reported that the government will reduce this window of validity to 24 hours, making using the health pass more impractical for the unvaccinated. 

Unless you are suffering from Covid-19 symptoms, these tests are not currently free for the unvaccinated, with prices capped at €22 for an antigen test and €44 for a PCR test.

New Covid rules in schools

The fact that Jean-Michel Blanquer, the Education Minister will also be alongside Véran as measures are announced suggests that there will be some kind of announcement linked to Covid and schooling.

It is reported that this will concern class closures, with no automatic suspension of pre-school and primary school classes when a pupil tests positive. Instead if a child tests positive all the pupils in the class would be immediately tested and those that get a negative result could return to the class.

For now, there is no suggestion that there will be another lockdown or curfew or even a call to return to working from home. Calls from politicians to bring back free testing also look unlikely to be adopted by the government.

READ ALSO French government partners with Doctolib for Covid-19 vaccine appointments

French authorities have warned that the fifth wave of the pandemic is spreading through the country at “lightning” speed

A record 360,000 people booked booster shots on the Doctolib website yesterday, in anticipation of the new announcements. 

The Local will be following the press conference live HERE from 12.30pm to get the most up to date information.

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Where in France do you still need a face mask?

In France, masks will no longer be required on indoor transport as of Monday, May 16th. Here are rules and recommendations that are still in place:

Where in France do you still need a face mask?

Members of the public in France have been asked to wear face masks for the most part of two years, at times even outside in the street.

Since March 14th, 2022, the facial coverings have no longer been mandatory in most establishments such as shops, and as of Monday, May 16th, it will no longer be mandatory on indoor public transport. 

As of May 16th, you will therefore no longer be required to wear a mask in the following transports:

  • Buses and coaches
  • Subways and streetcars
  • RER and TER
  • TGV and interregional lines
  • Taxis

Regarding airplanes whether or not you must wear a mask is a bit more complicated.

On Wednesday, May 11th, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) announced that from May 16th onward it would no longer be required to wear a mask in airports and on board aircraft in the European Union. However, Germany has stated that it does not have the intention of lifting its requirement of wearing a mask on its airlines – this would include the Lufthansa airline. Thus, it will be necessary for passengers to still very to rules each airline has in place, which could be the case when travelling to a country that still has indoor mask requirements in place.

EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky specified that vulnerable people should continue to wear masks, and that “a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, to reassure those seated nearby.”

Masks still obligatory in medical settings

However, it will still be mandatory for caregivers, patients and visitors in health care facilities, specifically including hospitals, pharmacies, medical laboratories, retirement homes, and establishments for the disabled. 

For people who are vulnerable either due to their age or their status as immunocompromised, wearing a mask will continue to be recommended, though not required, particularly for enclosed spaces and in large gatherings.

Masks are also still recommended for people who test positive, people who might have come in contact with Covid-19, symptomatic people and healthcare professionals.

Will masks come back?

It is possible. French Health Minister Olivier Véran does not exclude the return of mandatory mask-wearing, should the health situation require it.

What are the other Covid-19 restrictions that remain in place?

The primary restriction that has not changed is the French government’s regulation for testing positive: If you are unvaccinated and test positive, isolation is still required for 10 days, if you are vaccinated, this requirement is seven days. Isolation can be reduced from 10 to 7 days or from 7 to 5 days if a negative covid test is performed, and symptoms are no longer present.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What Covid restrictions remain in place in France?

The French Health Ministry still recommends following sanitary measures such as: wearing a mask in places where it is still mandatory, hand washing, regular ventilation of rooms, coughing or sneezing into your elbow, and using a single-use handkerchief (tissue).