French PM Castex Announces Schools Remain Open, No Curfew NYE, Public Gatherings Limited To Slow Omicron

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French Prime Minister Jean Castex said that in response to a rapid spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, the government was narrowing the delay for a third booster shot to three months from four, but there would be no curfew for New Year’s Eve.

Castex also said that from Monday, December 27, 2021, and for the next three weeks, all public gatherings would be limited to 2,000 people for indoor events and to 5,000 people for outdoor events.

Consumption of drinks and food will be banned in long-distance transport and home working will become mandatory for at least three days per week where possible, Castex said.

Mask-wearing will be mandatory in town centers, with local authorities in charge of enforcing the measure, and food and drinks will only be able to be consumed by seated customers in bars and restaurants.

New rules for isolation periods for people who test positive for Covid-19 and contact cases will be announced at the end of the week. Castex said these were necessary due to the unique “characteristics of Omnicron” compared to other variants.

However, there will be no changes to the school calendar. Students will return to school as previously planned, on January 3.

The new measures come as officials have warned that hospitals in France again risk being overwhelmed after a record 100,000 cases were reported Saturday, the highest daily level in France since the pandemic began nearly two years ago.

Figures from Monday show more than 3,300 people are currently in intensive care, above the crisis threshold of 3,000 set by authorities.