France keeps its jolly season despite Omicron menace

·1-min read

As the Netherlands goes into lockdown over the holidays, and European countries slap border controls on the UK to slow the Omicron variant, the jingle bells are still ringing for France's festive season.

While many public events such as fireworks shows and parties have been cancelled, families are still allowed to get together for end-of-year fun – and many venues will remain open.

Cheer is trumping fear, with cabaret shows in full swing and restaurants across Paris gearing up for a roaring Christmas trade.

It’s a far cry from last year, when a near-lockdown was imposed, restaurants were closed and alpine resorts weren’t allowed to operate their ski lifts.

Caution

Despite this year’s relative freedom, an opinion poll shows some French people plan to remain cautious as Omicron gains ground, and the government warns against large gatherings.

Thirty-one percent of families said they planned on avoid large dinner parties with relatives and friends, and instead celebrate with members of their own household.

The French are also being urged to use Covid self-testing kits before attending get-togethers over the holidays, and to mask up in public places.

However Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer on Sunday dismissed the idea of extended school holidays, instead encouraging people to get vaccinated and to respect barrier measures.

As part of tighter measures being introduced by the government, health passes that allow people to access restaurants and other public venues will be transformed into vaccination passes.

This means that from January they may only be used by people who are fully vaccinated. Vaccination is also to be opened up to children from age 5.

The moves comes as coronavirus infections in France have averaged nearly 50,000 per day over the past week.

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