Covid-19, what you need to know this week: popcorn and snacks

On February 16, a number of restrictions were lifted in France.


Popcorn galore at the cinema, sandwiches and tabbouleh unpacked on the train, feverish dancing in a discotheque or in the pit of a concert hall: it’s time for a new lifting of restrictions. Before the next stage scheduled for February 28 with the end of the mask in places subject to the vaccination pass and a new protocol at school. And maybe mid-March or end of March the abandonment of most constraints including the vaccination pass. L’Germany takes the same path while the Denmark is simply considering abandoning its vaccination program. L’epidemic is it still under control? If the hospital pressure is less strong, we can all the same, on an individual basis, maintain the barrier gestures, suggests a specialist. “We cannot yet compare the Covid to the flu“, declares to the Figaro Hans Kluge in charge of Europe at the WHO.

Good reading,

Camille Lestienne, journalist at Figaro.

1. Lifting of restrictions

Standing at the bar. Yesterday Wednesday, new restrictions were lifted. It is again allowed to have a drink at the counter, to attend a standing concert, to go to a disco. “The re-reopening is going to be crazy!”, promises the flyer of one of them in Saint-Lô and everywhere in France, customers stamp their feet. However, the closure left its mark and forced professionals to reinvent their activity. Another subject of contentment, popcorn in the cinema is again authorized, as is catering on the train. Finally, the pot at the office is about to be reauthorized.

Next step. When the winter holidays return, therefore from February 28 for zone A, the schools will go from protocol level 3 to 2, the Minister of Education announced last Friday. Which means a relaxation of the rules on wearing a mask, indoor sport, the mixing of students or the number of tests. Also on February 28, wearing a mask will no longer be compulsory in enclosed places subject to the vaccination pass, with the exception of transport. As for the possibility of removing your mask indoors everywhere, it is mentioned for mid-March. “In mid-March, if the hospitals are in normal operating condition, and if the circulation of the virus is very low, we will be able to remove the masks for adults and for children, for all or part of the closed places, including without past“Said Olivier Véran Wednesday on France Info.

Peek at the neighbors. Are we going faster or slower than other European countries? In Germany, where the peak of the wave has just been crossed, the restrictions will be gradually lifted until March 20, when they could be completely abandoned. Switzerland is also beginning a return to near-normality, as is Austria. It must be said that the British example is encouraging. Two weeks after the total lifting of health constraints, the figures for the epidemic in the United Kingdom, in particular hospitalizations, seem to prove Boris Johnson right. Finally, Denmark is going even further and is preparing to end its vaccination program no later than spring.

2. Where is the epidemic?

Epidemic indicators are declining. Infographic Le Figaro

After the peak. Is the easing of restrictions supported by the epidemic figures? If the peak of the wave is well behind us, the incidence rate remains stratospheric. But thanks to vaccination and the lesser danger of Omicron, hospitalizations and critical care admissions, although at a high level, are down. “A kind of rhetoric has taken hold, which consists of saying: “Since the peak is over, everything is better”, notes Mircea Sofonea. However, from the peak to an acceptable situation, there are the same stages as those preceding the peak.” And “if the political decisions go towards a reduction in barrier gestures, nothing obliges us, individually, to go towards a relaxation”, adds the epidemiologist.

The figures to remember in France

  • 3126 patients in critical care (-109 since the day before)
  • 30.578 hospitalized patients (-513 since the day before)
  • 98.235 new cases detected (compared to 235,267 a week ago)
  • 244 deaths in 24 hours in hospital (135,855 dead since the start of the epidemic in hospitals and nursing homes)

Source: Public Health France as of February 16

3. Pass disabled

The deadline for taking his booster dose has been shortened to four months to keep his vaccination pass. ERIC GAILLARD / REUTERS

Abandoned pass. Less than four million French people were to lose their vaccination pass last Tuesday when the deadline for taking the booster dose was shortened to four months. Some inadvertently, others out of weariness or conviction. “Today, I rather tend to consider vaccination as a political tool. The government’s vaccine strategy is sorely lacking in clarity,” thus judges a university professor double vaccinated and ready to endure “a little parenthesis of deprivation“. The reduction of the vaccine pass system mentioned for the end of March or the beginning of April could also be envisaged from mid-March, according to the statements of the Minister of Health on Wednesday. Professor Delfraissy is also considering with the Parisian this Thursday a lifting of the pass at the end of March. “living with the virus, he supposes, it may also mean getting out of this notion of obligation, which has been necessary up to now. And finally get citizens to manage their lives themselves according to the level of the epidemic.In the meantime, holders of a fake vaccination pass can now go directly to a vaccination center to regularize their situation without risk of prosecution.

Vaccination figures

  • 54.2 million people received a first dose (80.4% of the population).
  • 53.1 million of French people have a complete vaccination schedule (78.8% of the population).
  • 38.2 million booster doses administered.

Source: Ministry of Health as of February 16

4. The quote

No one will be quiet in Europe as long as transmission of the virus continues.

Hans Kluge is WHO Regional Director for Europe

In a long interview with Figaro, WHO Regional Director for Europe, Hans Kulge, discusses the epidemic situation. “We cannot yet compare the Covid to the flu” according to him. The Delta variant is still present in Eastern countries where the vaccination rate is very low. Despite this, he seesvery strong signs of hope for the future“. However, we must not lower our guard against the risk of the emergence of new variants. Improving the Sars-CoV-2 surveillance system, rethinking the priorities of health policy, fighting fake news are all objectives to be achieved. “States must consider health as a public good, in which it is necessary to invest», stresses Hans Kluge again.

5. Passes and Masks

Vaccination pass. Since January 24, the vaccination pass is required for people over 16 to go to places of leisure, restaurants and drinking establishments (with the exception of collective catering), fairs, seminars and trade shows. and inter-regional public transport (planes, trains, coaches) unless there is a compelling reason. The health pass remains valid for minors aged 12 to 15 and for access to health establishments and medico-social services. The vaccination pass is activated by proof of complete vaccination or a recovery certificate stored in the TousAntiCovid application or in paper format.

Wearing a mask is compulsory in closed places subject to the vaccination pass. It is no longer imposed on the outside. The mask is still compulsory in primary schools both outside and inside. Since February 9, it is no longer required in chairlifts and ski lifts but still required in gondolas and queues. From February 28, it will no longer be compulsory in places subject to the vaccination pass, except for transport.

A certificate to travel. Since July 1, 2021, Europeans can travel more easily within the continent thanks to certified proof of vaccination or negative tests gathered in a single document. In digital or paper format. Please note, however, that each country may continue to apply specific rules.

6. The reflexes to keep

The virus is transmitted by droplets and aerosols. The barrier gestures detailed by the Ministry of Health must be observed to protect themselves and others:

  • Wash your hands regularly or use hydroalcoholic gel
  • Cough or sneeze into the crease of your elbow
  • Use single-use tissues
  • Wear a mask in public spaces when the distance of two meters cannot be respected
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Air the rooms as often as possible, at least a few minutes every hour
  • Greet without shaking hands and stop kissing

7. What to do in case of symptoms?

The disease is most often manifested by cough, fever or feeling feverish, loss of smell and taste, fatigue. If after a few days, you have trouble breathing or are short of breath, you should contact 15. The symptoms would be lighter with the Omicron variant, similar to those of a cold: sore throat, headache, runny nasal.

In case of signs of the disease, the most important thing is to get tested. The test, PCR or antigen, remains free for those who have not been vaccinated on medical prescription or after having been identified as a contact case by Health Insurance. In the event of a positive result on a self-test, a confirmation PCR test is recommended. While waiting for the result, you must isolate yourself, wear a mask and prepare the list of people you could have infected. If the test is positive, isolation must last 7 days from the first symptoms for vaccinated persons, 10 days for unvaccinated people. It can be broken on D+5 or D+7 respectively, if you have a negative test and you have had no symptoms for 48 hours.

See you next week.


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