Paris announces new Omicron restrictions, outdoor mask mandate

Residents of Paris have been ordered to wear masks even when outdoors starting from today.

From December 31, all Parisians aged 11 and over will have to wear masks when in public. The only exception is for cyclists and those inside vehicles, and for those engaged in sport.

With France leading Europe in the number of new cases caused by the Omicron strain of COVID-19, Paris authorities announced their decision to return to the mandatory wearing of masks in public places, which had last been required in the French capital in August 2020.

There are two people in France were testing positive for COVID-19 every second, putting hospitals under serious pressure, Health Minister Olivier Véran said.

“I wouldn’t call Omicron a wave anymore. I would call it a tidal wave,” he stated starkly.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Jean Castex said that, from early January, working from home for at least three days a week would become mandatory for all those whose roles allowed them to do so. Companies that violated the rules will be punished with fines of up to €50,000 ($56,600), the government warned.

In addition, outside gatherings will be limited to 5,000 mask-wearing people, although it’s not yet clear if that restriction will apply to campaign events ahead of April’s presidential election.

Amid rising cases, France said that citizens were now eligible to get a booster shot of a coronavirus vaccine just three months after receiving their last inoculation.

Over 9.3 million have been infected with COVID-19 in the country since the start of the pandemic, with over 121,000 succumbing to the disease.

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