Emmanuel Macron held Monday, December 27 a health defense council dedicated to Covid-19, just before an exceptional council of ministers, which adopted the bill transforming the health pass into a vaccination pass. Prime Minister Jean Castex and Minister of Health Olivier Véran then held a press conference together in the early evening. “It all seems like a movie that never ends”, admitted the Prime Minister when describing a “Extremely tense health situation”.
At four days of the New Year, the number of contaminations explodes, in particular because of the waves of the Delta and Omicron variants. In France, the number of contaminations exceeded the symbolic threshold of 100,000 cases in twenty-four hours on Saturday, a figure never before reached.
On Monday, more than 1,600 new hospital admissions were recorded, bringing the number of people hospitalized due to Covid-19 to nearly 17,000, according to data from Public Health France. The increase also concerns the number of people treated in critical care services, with 3,333 patients Monday evening, 328 more than the day before.
The time to benefit from the booster dose reduced to three months
Jean Castex first announced the reduction of the time between the injection and the vaccine booster. From Tuesday, December 28, three months after the previous injection or infection with Covid-19 will suffice to benefit from the vaccination booster, following the recommendation of the High Authority for Health (HAS). Initially set at six months, this period was reduced to five and, in recent days, to four months.
The gauges will be restored for large gatherings starting Jan. 3 and for at least three weeks, Mr Castex then said. Large gatherings will be limited to a maximum of 2,000 people indoors and a maximum of 5,000 people outdoors, the Prime Minister said. These measures, adopted a few minutes earlier in the Council of Ministers, will apply in sports arenas but will not concern political meetings and the exercise of worship.
In the music sector, the announcement of the ban on standing concerts prompted the “Despair”, according to Malika Séguineau, head of Prodiss (national union of musical and variety shows). “We are once again becoming a forbidden sector”, she reacted to Agence France-Presse (AFP). “It’s terrible. We were not consulted ”, she added. “I exchanged with producers concerned by tours: they will be canceled because there is no longer any availability for the year 2022 between all the dates postponed and the new shows”, she lamented.
Standing consumption prohibited in bars and cafes
Also from January 3, standing concerts will be prohibited and consumption must be seated in bars and cafes. “The economic sectors impacted by the decisions that the situation requires us to take will be compensated within the framework of consultations which will be conducted without delay by the Minister of the Economy and Finance, Bruno Le Maire”, added Mr. Castex.
“My feeling is that the freedom to work normally is getting smaller and smaller. But if we want to remain open, we must follow the advice to the letter ”, estimated Mr. Héguy to the World. “It’s a very severe turn of the screw. A disaster for bars and cafes. It’s a disguised closure ”, for his part, alarmed Didier Chenet president of the National Group of Independents (GNI) another professional union.
For their part, the owners of nightclubs, closed since December 6, fear that they will not be able to reopen on January 6 as planned: they deduce from the upcoming ban on consumption while standing in bars, a “Extension of their closure for three additional weeks”, s’alarme l’UMIH.
Consumption prohibited in cinemas, theaters and public transport
Consume food and drinks in cinemas, theaters and public transport, “Including long distance”, will also be banned from next Monday.
“Mandatory” telework when possible, at least three days a week
The use of teleworking “Will be made compulsory” from the start of the school year “For all employees for whom it is possible”, at the rate of “Three days minimum per week and four days when possible”, announced Monday Jean Castex. Labor Minister Elisabeth Borne will hold consultations with the social partners on this subject on Tuesday, added the Prime Minister, specifying that the measure would take effect. “For a period of three weeks”.
The measure will also apply to the public service, said Amélie de Montchalin in the evening: “From January 3, for three weeks, we make teleworking compulsory in the #public function three days a week. I also invite public officials to telework four days a week if they can. Let’s show the example again, I will be very vigilant! “, tweeted the civil service minister.
Wearing a mask is compulsory in some town centers
“The mask obligation, already applicable everywhere indoors, will be extended and better respected, especially in all city centers, Mr. Castex said. The prefects will adopt the corresponding provisions in conjunction with the mayors. “
No curfew on December 31 and the start of the school year maintained on January 3
As announced in recent days, the government is lifting the curfew and closing restaurants and bars for now. Also, the government remains on its ” line “ not to close schools “As a last resort” : the start of the school year will not be postponed and will take place on January 3, as planned. “We will not postpone the start of the school year nor will we switch the colleges and high schools into distancing”, explained the Prime Minister. “At the start of the school year, we will expand our surveillance and screening policy in schools”, said Mr. Castex.
Finally, the government has chosen not to impose a curfew for New Year’s Eve, December 31. “Let’s limit the big parties and the big dinners, let’s air, let’s test ourselves”, nevertheless asked the Prime Minister, who also indicated that a new defense council would be held on January 5, 2022.
New period of isolation known at the end of the week
The government is allowing itself a few extra days to decide and will announce at the end of the week the new duration of the isolation period for contact cases of a person positive for the Omicron variant, currently from seven to seventeen days, provided that they have a complete vaccination schedule.
“The characteristics of Omicron”, a variant of the virus in the process of becoming the majority, “Will lead us, after consulting the health authorities, to adjust our doctrine to the duration of isolation”, explained the Prime Minister, adding that the executive « fixer[ait] these new rules by the end of the week ”.
By reducing the period of isolation, the idea is to avoid the paralysis of the country, while the multiplication of work stoppages could cause the “Possible disorganization of a number of essential services”, among which “Food distribution, security, energy, transport, communications and health”, had alerted the scientific council Thursday.
The state of health emergency declared in Reunion
Overseas, where the situation is also deteriorating, the Prime Minister announced that a state of health emergency would be declared on Reunion Island. It will also be extended to Martinique.
Vaccination pass: managers could control identities themselves “in case of proven doubt”
Most “Vaccination remains at the heart of the government’s strategy”, recalled Mr. Castex. “It protects against serious forms of Covid. Yes vaccination protects us, protects others and severely strained health services ”, assured the Prime Minister. This is the objective of transforming the health pass into a vaccination pass. Initially scheduled for entry into force at the end of January, the bill, presented on Monday in the Council of Ministers, will be examined in committee at the National Assembly from Wednesday, December 29, before going to the Senate from January 5. .
In detail, it transforms the health pass into a vaccination pass “For access to leisure activities, restaurants and drinking establishments, fairs, seminars and trade shows or even interregional transport”, in particular rail. The only presentation of a negative test would however remain valid. “For access to health and medico-social establishments and services”.
The Prime Minister confirmed that the managers of establishments open to the public (ERP) “Will have the possibility, in case of proven doubt, to verify the identities themselves” people presenting their vaccination pass. MM. Castex and Véran, however, specified that they were waiting for the outcome of the parliamentary discussion on the subject, which had been heated during the debates around the health pass this summer.
False health passes: sanctions and controls will be reinforced
The government reiterated its willingness to strengthen sanctions against “False health passes”, as part of its bill devoted to the vaccine pass, a “Deliberate act of endangering others” Who “Scandalizes” M. Castex. “No personal conviction can justify it, it is not admissible and we must collectively give ourselves the means to stop it, and to sanction it more heavily”, hammered the Prime Minister.