Outdoor partying on New Year’s Eve in Paris, France was barred by French municipal authorities in line with new government protocols to hold off the spread of the Omicron COVID-19 variant. As many people in France started their winter vacations, French Prime Minister Jean Castex asked them in a televised speech that the government needs everyone’s cooperation to find alternatives in “celebrating large gatherings, and avoid moments of conviviality.” “I understand the frustration to limit yourselves in such festive moments, but we owe that to our health-care personnel,” Castex said.

Massive public revelries and fireworks displays were curbed in France on New Year’s Eve, as it shut down nightclubs (excluding bars). Additionally, guests, whether vaccinated or not, were required to take a COVID-19 self-test before they could attend year-end get-togethers. Moreover, starting this year, only vaccinated individuals are allowed to get a “health pass” to several establishments like bars, restaurants, medical facilities, and cultural venues. “It’s not admissible that a minority of French people who refuse to get vaccinated puts at risk the life of a whole country, and the daily life of a large majority of French people who’ve played ball since the beginning of this pandemic,” Castex said. Currently, several hundred Omicron cases have been recorded in France, becoming the dominant strain by mid-January. However, Castex noted that there is currently no information that suggests it is more contagious than the Delta variant and that existing COVID-19 vaccines are effective based on data.