France considers new Covid restrictions ahead of expected Omicron push


French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to announce new Covid measures on Monday as the country braces for a further increase in cases due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.

Authorities have warned hospitals are at risk of being overwhelmed again after a record 100,000 cases were reported on Saturday, the highest daily level in France since the pandemic began nearly two years ago.

Health experts have estimated that the number of daily cases could increase rapidly by mid-January, even though millions of people have received booster shots in recent weeks.

Nearly 3,300 people are currently in intensive care, again above the crisis threshold of 3,000 set by authorities to treat the worst cases.

Macron will hold a crisis meeting at 4:00 p.m. (3:00 p.m. GMT) via videoconference from his Mediterranean holiday retreat in Bregancon with key members of his cabinet and representatives of French public health organizations.

One measure being considered is to restrict the country’s Covid health pass, which is mandatory to enter restaurants, cinemas and other public places, only to fully vaccinated people – and no longer also to those with a recent negative test.

The pass along with a negative test could also be required for bars or cafes without a table, and possibly for nightclubs if they are allowed to reopen in January after an orderly four-week closure on December 6.

Some doctors have also suggested a New Year’s Eve curfew, while a group of health workers want to postpone the return of students to school after the holidays, set for January 3.

Wearing a mask could also be compulsory outside, a measure already imposed in Savoy in the French Alps, and in other European countries.

Authorities have urged people not to hold parties or large family gatherings during the holidays, and some 22 million out of 40 million eligible have received Covid booster injections.



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