International

France to loosen COVID-19 restrictions in February

France announced on Thursday that it would be implementing new COVID-19 restrictions in the country while loosening other restrictions beginning in February.

French officials said that entry into public places such as museums, bars and restaurants would not be allowed for most people who do not show recent recovery from COVID-19 or proof of vaccination beginning on Monday, The New York Times reported.

French health minister Olivier Véran said during a Thursday news conference that the vaccine pass would be applied “as long as necessary, but no longer than necessary,” though officials did not offer definite details regarding that timeline, the newspaper noted.

However, other COVID-19 restrictions in the country are expected to be lifted next month. Among some of the first restrictions to be lifted would be capacity limits in public places, requirements for outdoor masking and — for some companies — mandates for remote work, The Times reported.

Additionally, stadiums and movie theaters will be able to allow people to eat and drink inside and nightclubs will be permitted to reopen, all by the middle of February. The omicron surge is expected by the government to peak around that time, according to the Times.

The newspaper noted that the announcement regarding restrictions comes several months ahead of France’s presidential election.

The news also comes as the number of patients in intensive care units in France have recently declined, though the country has still posted high COVID-19 numbers, including 525,000 cases on Monday, the Times reported.

Still, French officials said on Thursday that the COVID-19 virus was starting to move in the right direction, with French Prime Minister Jean Castex saying during the news conference, “This exceptional wave is not over, but the situation is starting to evolve more favorably,” according to the newspaper. 

About three-fourths of the French population are fully vaccinated, according to data from Johns Hopkins University

International