French premier Castex announces plans to curb spread of Omicron variant

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  • Jean Castex
    Prime Minister of France
  • Emmanuel Macron
    Emmanuel Macron
    President of France

French prime minister Jean Castex emerged from several hours of meetings with President Emmanuel Macron and top ministers on Monday to outline an array of measures aimed at curbing the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

For the next three weeks, all public gatherings indoors will be limited to 2,000 people and to 5,000 people for outdoor events.

Standing concerts will be banned as well as the consumption of drinks and food in cinemas, theatres and on long distance transport. Employees will be encouraged to work from home at least three days a week wherever possible.

"A new wave is breaking over the continent,” said Castex who was flanked by health minister Olivier Véran during a press conference after the cabinet meeting.

“In France as in Europe, the health situation is extremely tense.”

Plans

Castex unveiled the plans as France reported just over 30,000 new cases of the coronavirus compared with nearly 28,000 on Sunday. On Saturday, the country registered a record high of 104,611 infections.

He ruled out a curfew for 31 December but asserted that the next school term would start as scheduled on 3 January - the same day as a ban begins on drinking at the counter in cafés and bars.

From Tuesday, the delay for a third booster shot will be cut from four to three months in response to the rocketing spread of Omicron.

"Vaccination protects us,” added Castex. “It protects others and it protects the health services. The key and decisive element remains vaccination.”

He said there would also be a crackdown on people using bogus health passes.

“It is a deliberate act of endangering the lives of others that no personal conviction can justify,” he added.

Macron is expected to make a statement on the health crisis in France during his traditional end of year address to the nation on 31 December.

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