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France to loosen COVID-19 restrictions in February

France to loosen COVID-19 restrictions in February
French Prime Minister Jean Castex on Thursday announced the nation will ease some COVID-19 restrictions in early February after implementing a more restrictive "vaccine pass" on Monday. File Photo by Ian Langsdon/EPA-EFE

Jan. 20 (UPI) -- France on Thursday announced plans to loosen COVID-19 restrictions after requiring proof of vaccination to enter most public places beginning next week.

Prime Minister Jean Castex announced during a press conference that changes to the country's "vaccine pass" will go into effect Monday, pending approval from the Constitutional Council, followed by looser restrictions in early February.

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Beginning Feb. 2, large-capacity venues such as stadiums and arenas will be allowed to operate at full capacity.

Additionally, work-from-home requirements will be lifted but will still be recommended and masks will no longer be required outdoors.

On Feb. 16, drinking and eating will be allowed in stadiums, cinemas and public transport and while standing at bars.

Nightclubs will also be allowed to re-open, but the government did not specify if masks would be required.

On Jan. 6, the French National Assembly approved a stricter version of France's vaccine pass requiring everyone older than 12 to prove their vaccination status to access restaurants, cultural events and most public transportation.

Negative COVID-19 tests will no longer be accepted, except for entry into health facilities and to get healthcare services.

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More than 90% of French adults have been fully vaccinated, which is one of the highest rates in the world, while France has reported a seven-day average of more than 320,000 new COVID-19 cases amid the presence of the Omicron variant.

"We are unquestionably in a new phase of the pandemic," Castex said.

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