France will ban concessions at cinemas and all consumables on public transport from January 3rd in order to “combat” the spread of the Omicron variant. Additional measures, ostensibly meant to combat the spread of the mild virus, were announced by French Prime Minister Jean Castex during a press conference on December 27th.
Indoor events with 2,000 attendees and outdoor events with 5,000 attendees will be allowed to continue, so long as everyone in attendance remains seated. Bars and restaurants will also stay open, but all food and drinks must be consumed from a seated position in order to battle the latest wave of COVID-19.
Consuming popcorn in cinemas where everyone is sitting down to enjoy the latest film? Sacré-bleu!
French officials are currently debating whether to mandate vaccines for those wanting to access “leisure venues.” The measure has yet to be voted upon by the French Parliament, but will take effect on January 15th if approved.
Protests across Europe have intensified in recent weeks as governments debate whether to mandate vaccine passports for reentry to regular life. During the summer, France underwent more than 12 weeks of protests as citizens railed against the introduction of vaccine passports.
At present, individuals must show a negative COVID test to enter various venues, including cinemas. Masks are required for passengers on all forms of public transport. Castex noted that masks may also be made mandatory outside in town centers, and a new curfew will be re-examined as an option on January 5th. France’s schools will reopen as planned in January, but French employees must work remotely where possible for at least three days in January.
Other new measures included a shortening of the wait time between second vaccination and a first booster shot. French citizens will only have to wait three months between vaccinations and boosters.
“I know that it feels like a film without ending, but a year ago we started our vaccination campaign and now we are one of the best vaccinated and best protected people in the world,” Castex told the news conference.
In December, the CDC announced that 80 percent of Omicron cases in the United States were found in the vaccinated and boosted populations, potentially accounting for France’s recent surge in cases.