Paris cancels New Year's Eve fireworks as Omicron spreads

A file photo of the New Year's celebrations on the Champs Elysees avenue, in Paris on Dec 31, 2019. PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (REUTERS) - Paris has cancelled planned fireworks as well as festivities on the Champs Elysees avenue on New Year's Eve in line with new government rules to prevent the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant, BFM TV reported on Saturday (Dec 18).

French Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Friday that major public parties and fireworks would be banned on New Year's Eve and recommended that people - even if vaccinated - take a Covid-19 self-test before getting together for year-end parties.

The Omicron coronavirus variant is now suspected to be responsible for up to 10 per cent of new confirmed Covid-19 cases in France, Health Minister Olivier Veran said on Saturday. It is the main reason behind plans for stricter health requirements for entering some venues, he added.

A new vaccination pass set to be introduced early next year will require people to show proof of vaccination to enter restaurants and long-distance public transport.

Under the current regulations, a recent negative Covid-19 test is sufficient for entering many indoor public places.

Plans for the new pass were announced by Mr Castex on Friday.

Mr Veran, speaking on France Inter radio, also said he expected that early next week the French health authority will give the green light to start offering coronavirus vaccinations to children aged five to 11.

For now, only children with serious health conditions or additional health risks can be given the shots.

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