France to loosen COVID curbs in February, allowing popcorn in cinemas again


(Refiles with tweaked headline)

PARIS (Reuters) -France will ease work-from-home guidelines from early February and permit nightclubs to reopen two weeks later as the overall COVID-19 state of affairs in the nation is beginning to enhance, Prime Minister Jean Castex mentioned on Thursday.

Caps on the variety of individuals allowed into sports activities and leisure venues will even be lifted on Feb. 2, and masks will now not be required open air from that date.

People will even again, from Feb. 16, be allowed to eat popcorn – or different snacks – in cinemas. COVID protocols in colleges, which amongst different issues require kids to put on masks in class, might be relaxed after the winter holidays.

However a vaccine move, which requires a certificates of vaccination to enter public venues like eating places, cafes, cinemas and long-distance trains, will enter into power as deliberate, Castex mentioned, saying it will be enforced from Jan. 24.

The vaccine move might be dropped later if the chance to public well being from the pandemic eased considerably, he informed a information convention. Health Minister Olivier Veran mentioned that might rely on how a lot stress hospitals are underneath.

“The wave linked to the Delta variant is clearly receding in every single place,” Castex mentioned. At the identical time, the wave attributable to the newer Omicron variant “is beginning to stall in the areas the place this variant first hit on the finish of December”.

France reported over 425,000 coronavirus infections on Thursday. The variety of COVID sufferers in intensive care has stabilised, leaving the federal government some room for manoeuvre.

And the federal government’s science advisory physique mentioned the fifth wave of the coronavirus pandemic would stay at a excessive, however manageable, stage of infections till mid-March.

The vaccine move, authorized by parliament on Sunday, nonetheless wants the inexperienced mild of the Constitutional Court, which can make its views identified on the matter on Friday. The move has re-energised anti-vaccine road protests.

Up till now, a detrimental COVID take a look at was additionally accepted to get entry to public venues. That will now not be the case.

Castex additionally inspired dad and mom to vaccinate kids aged 5-11, and mentioned kids aged 12-17 would now give you the chance to get a vaccine booster.

(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta, Dominique Vidalon, Marc Angrand, Richard Lough; Writing by Ingrid Melander; Editing by William Maclean and Mark Heinrich)

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