France to lift Covid restrictions in February

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PARIS — French Prime Minister Jean Castex announced Thursday that the government will lift most of its COVID-19 restrictions in February, although the need for a vaccine pass and indoor mask-wearing will remain.

The vaccine pass will come into effect on Monday, Castex said at a press conference. People will no longer be allowed to show a negative test to enter restaurants, bars, theaters, museums and stadiums or travel on trains — only proof of vaccination will be accepted.

Starting February 2, stadiums, arenas and other large-capacity venues will be allowed to operate at full capacity again. Homeworking obligations will be lifted, though it will still be encouraged, and masks will no longer be required outdoors, as is currently the case in many cities. 

On February 16, people will be allowed to eat and drink in stadiums, cinemas and on transport, as well as being allowed to drink while standing in bars. Nightclubs will be allowed to reopen, though the government was unable to specify whether masks would be required.

France has had an average of 320,000 COVID-19 cases each day over the past week, an ever-rising number. But Castex said that of the two simultaneous waves hitting the country — of the Delta and Omicron variants — the former was receding, while the latter was starting to fall in the first regions where it appeared, including in Paris.

"We are unquestionably in a new phase of the epidemic," said the prime minister.

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