Nightclubs in France will be ordered to close for four weeks starting this weekend to counter surging Covid-19 cases that have seen hospitals announce emergency protocols as beds fill up, Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Monday.
Stricter social distancing and extended use of face masks will also be required in schools as France faces a fifth wave of virus cases, said Castex, who himself just emerged from quarantine last week after contracting the virus.
“We have all had a tendency to lower our guard” in recent weeks, he said.
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But the government held off on imposing stricter measures for the general population or the non-vaccinated in particular, as several other countries have done in recent days.
Instead Castex urged businesses to encourage working from home and called on people to “lift the pedal” on social interactions such as office parties as the year-end holidays approach.
And health passes proving Covid vaccination or inoculation will now be required for eating in reserved zones at outdoor Christmas markets, he said.
“The situation demands an individual as well as a collective effort,” he said in a televised address following a cabinet meeting on the crisis.
“But it’s no longer the time for lockdowns,” he said, citing a French vaccination rate of nearly 90 percent of the eligible population, while urging non-vaccinated to get the shots, not least in a show of “solidarity” with health workers.
He added that if approved by France’s health advisory body, vaccinations could soon be extended to children aged 5 to 12, while people 65 and older will no longer need appointments to get Covid booster shots and can just walk in to clinics or pharmacies.