January 25, 2022

Family gatherings, wearing a mask: this is what is allowed and prohibited at Christmas

Some sanitary measures must be observed for the Christmas holidays. (©Illustration Adobe Stock)

Christmas fast approaching. This year again, the festivities are placed under the sign of Covid-19 with the fifth wave reaching its peak, triggering numerous “white plans” in hospitals across the country.

So what should we expect this year for the end of the year? Between family gatherings, masses or even restaurant meals, we take stock what is allowed or prohibited for the Christmas holidays.

“The French will be able to spend serene Christmas holidays”

For the Scientific Council, the coming weeks should be marked by an increase in hospital admissions of patients with a peak in hospital admissions which could be greater than 2,000 per day (i.e. close to the level observed during the second wave fall 2020).

Asked by our colleagues from Parisian, the Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, recalled that at the beginning of last week, the contaminations had reached a record figure with 70,000 cases in 24 hours, while insisting on the fact that the efforts of the French “allow us to face this dazzling wave”.

And Emmanuel Macron to be optimistic as for the Christmas celebrations: “I deeply believe that the French will be able to spend serene Christmas celebrations” he said at the microphone of France Blue.

If the executive has therefore not acted a new turn of the screw, and a confinement is not required today, he calls for the responsibility of everyone to spend the end of the year celebrations without shadows (or almost).

Should we wear a mask at Christmas?

If it is not mandatory, the wearing a mask is strongly recommended.

Prime Minister Jean Castex, during his last speech, also called for vigilance and the maintenance of barrier gestures, even for vaccinated people: “We must avoid moments of conviviality without a mask”, a- he reminded.

“My message is very simple, until the end of the year, we put our foot down, we stop, we protect ourselves and we thus protect our ability to enjoy Christmas. “

In an opinion made public on December 8, the Scientific Council recommends “to give up as much as possible, and at least until the end of the year celebrations, to participate, without
permanent mask wearing, collective gatherings, parties, receptions, lunches, dinners or evenings ”.

What recommendations for aeration?

Still depending on the instance, it is recommended toventilate the premises every hour for ten minutes “if possible during the event to reduce the risk of contamination”.

Also, it is recommended to use a CO2 sensor within the house.

How many people can we meet at home?

In the private sphere, no gauge is applied this year while in 2020, the government had limited private gatherings to six people.

However, this is not the door open to everything, as Jean-François Delfraissy, President of the Scientific Council underlined during his hearing in the Senate, Wednesday, December 8:

The parties can take place, but you probably have to surround them (…) If we don’t do that, we will have to go towards more severe restrictions.

Jean-Francois DelfraissyChairman of the Scientific Council

Without giving a precise figure as to the maximum number of guests, the body recommends “to limit the number of participants”.

Should I get tested before Christmas?

Still according to the Scientific Council, it is strongly suggested touse diagnostic tests (antigenic tests or self-tests) in the event of symptoms or before an event.

The best is to carry out a self-test the same day of the festivities or an antigen test the day before or the same day of the event, in particular “the less fragile, the youngest and the most socially active people”.

Is the booster dose needed before Christmas?

If this booster dose will only have a major consequence from mid-January, when at least 26 million people have received this dose, the Scientific Council insists that fragile people must have received a booster dose.

Ideally, a week before D-Day in order to be protected.

The booster dose induces, whatever the age, a very strong immune response (7 to 10 times the initial antibody response). It protects at the end of a week those at risk against the occurrence of severe and serious forms.

scientific Council

Can we go to a restaurant to celebrate Christmas?

Here too, it is not forbidden to celebrate Christmas in the restaurant, with a health pass. Wearing a mask is compulsory indoors, as it was announced at the end of November, even after presenting the precious sesame.

If nothing therefore prohibits the holding of a party in a restaurant, some professionals see reservations canceled for New Years Eve and Christmas Day. A finding reported by the Union of Trades and Industries of the Hotel Industry (UMIH) which, in a press release, deplores this cascade of cancellations: “it caused in a few days a wave of cancellation of dinners, parties and other corporate receptions with catering organizers of receptions (TOR), restaurateurs and hoteliers ”.

Closing of nightclubs

The discos closed their doors on December 10 and for a minimum period of four weeks, that is to say until January 6, 2022. “The virus circulates a lot among young people and the wearing of the mask is difficult in these places. We also do it by consistency with the general message of caution, “the Prime Minister had advanced to justify this decision.
Note that “dance activities” will also be prohibited until January 6, inclusive in bars and restaurants.

What about Christmas meals at work?

According to the latest in-company health protocol (dated December 8), it is not possible to get together with colleagues around a Christmas meal.

“The moments of conviviality bringing together face-to-face employees within the framework of
professional are suspended ”, indicates the Ministry of Labor.

What the Scientific Council confirmed:

The best way for administrations, companies, associations and organizations to participate in the collective effort is to immediately cancel all events scheduled for December, and ask employees who can to prioritize teleworking.

scientific Council

Can we travel for Christmas?

At the national level, there is no travel restrictions. It is therefore possible to travel from one region to another.

On the other hand, for any trip abroad, there are measures depending on the country you are going to, as shown in the map below posted by the government and updated on December 4.

Classification of countries by colors to move around.
Classification of countries by colors to move around. (© Government)

What health measures for Christmas markets?

While Christmas markets are maintained across the country, a health protocol has been put in place to limit contamination. This can be reinforced by the prefectures if the local situation deteriorates, as for the Strasbourg Christmas market.

Among the main measures to access these events are the” obligation to wear a mask as well as the presentation of the health pass.

Can we attend midnight mass?

All over France, midnight masses occur. It will be possible to attend without a health pass. In any case, this is what the official decree stipulates that the pass is requested in places of worship only if they host cultural activities such as concerts and shows.

There will also be no gauge applied for these masses, as the Conference of Bishops of France confirms to us.

Should we expect a Christmas curfew?

Unlike last year, where a curfew was in effect from 1is December, Christmas 2021 escapes – for now – this measure, as confirmed by Olivier Véran.

All these efforts allow us to face this meteoric wave. New restrictions are not on the agenda, but let’s remain cautious and continue our efforts.

Olivier Véran Health Minister

Last year, a month before Christmas, Emmanuel Macron announced a curfew at 8 p.m. on December 15.

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