France considers tightening Covid restrictions

Ministers focus on country's vaccine programme as Germany celebrates reaching 30 million additional immunisations

People wearing masks sit on a carousel in Paris. One idea being considered is allowing only fully vaccinated people access to restaurants, cinemas and cultural venues. Photo: AP
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French ministers are looking at tightening Covid restrictions to slow the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant.

One idea being considered is closing the current get-out clauses in France's health pass so that only fully vaccinated people have access to restaurants, cinemas and cultural venues.

France is focusing on its vaccine programme as Germany celebrates reaching its goal of 30 million additional immunisations against Covid and England considers whether it should tighten restrictions further.

French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to announce new Covid measures on Monday.

The health pass currently has exemptions for people recently recovered from Covid and people who can show a negative test result.

There has been some opposition to the vaccine pass as it means all workers must be vaccinated.

More than 91 per cent of people over 12 are vaccinated in France, leaving nine per cent, or six million people, unvaccinated, and 2.7 million eligible for a booster.

Officials have said that hospitals again risk being overwhelmed after a record 100,000 cases were reported on Saturday, the highest daily level in France since the pandemic began.

Health experts have estimated that the number of daily cases could increase rapidly by mid-January, even though millions of people have received booster shots in recent weeks.

Nearly 3,300 people are in intensive care, again above the crisis threshold of 3,000 set by the authorities for handling the worst cases.

Germany reached its goal of 30 million immunisations against Covid-19 on Sunday.

“We have reached an important milestone. We can be proud of that,” Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said.

Of the extra shots, 25 million were boosters and five million were first or second-time vaccinations.

Austria introduced stronger Covid measures from Monday, with a 10pm closing hour for the hospitality sector.

The country is still in a lockdown for all unvaccinated people.

Updated: December 27, 2021, 1:19 PM