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Monday 6 February 2023 Dublin: 3°C
ABACA/PA Images People queuing to get tested for Covid-19 yesterday in an area near Paris, France.
# omicron
France announces new Covid-19 measures amid spike in infections
In England, politicians said there would be no further restrictions before 2022 but people are urged to be “cautious”.

LAST UPDATE | Dec 27th 2021, 9:32 PM

THE FRENCH GOVERNMENT has announced new measures in an effort to curb the spread of Covid-19, but stopped short of imposing drastic restrictions before New Year’s Eve.

Starting from next week, big events will be limited to 2,000 people indoors and 5,000 people outdoors.

People will be requested to sit down during concerts and customers will not be allowed to stand up in bars, French Prime Minister Jean Castex said.

Eating and drinking will be banned in cinemas, theatres, sport facilities and public transportation, including on long-distance routes.

Working from home will be mandatory at least three days per week for employees whose job makes it possible, Castex added.

The new rules will be in place for at least three weeks, he said.

The move comes after France recorded more than 100,000 virus infections in a single day for the first time in the pandemic.

United States

In the US, health officials have cut isolation restrictions for people with Covid-19 from 10 days to five, and similarly shortened the time that close contacts need to quarantine.

Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials said the guidance is in keeping with growing evidence that people with Covid-19 are most infectious in the two days before and three days after symptoms develop.

The decision was also driven by a recent surge in Covid-19 cases, propelled by the Omicron variant.

CDC director Rochelle Walensky said the US is about to see a lot of Omicron cases.

“Not all of those cases are going to be severe. In fact many are going to be asymptomatic,” she said.

“We want to make sure there is a mechanism by which we can safely continue to keep society functioning while following the science.”

England

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson and England’s health secretary said that no further Covid-19 restrictions will be introduced before the new year after ministers reviewed the latest data.

Sajid Javid said “people should remain cautious” in England and urged those marking the start of 2022 to consider testing themselves beforehand and to celebrate outside, with the Omicron variant now accounting for 90% of the UK’s new Covid-19 cases.

UK prime minister Boris Johnson also urged people to act cautiously and to get vaccinated and receive a booster jab.

Travel

Holiday travel chaos around the world continued today with more than 2,100 flights set to be cancelled, according to flight tracker FlightAware.

As the highly transmissible Omicron variant continues to spread, 2,270 flights have been cancelled around the world. Some 1,108 are into, out of or within the United States.

About 8,300 flights were grounded and tens of thousands more delayed on the weekend – one of the year’s busiest travel periods – with multiple airlines saying that Omicron spikes caused staffing shortages.

Additionally, US authorities are monitoring dozens of cruise ships hit by Covid cases, with several reportedly denied port in the Caribbean.

Over 60 vessels were under observation after “reported cases of Covid-19 have met the threshold for CDC investigation,” the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention said.

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