In response to record-breaking COVID-19 cases driven by the highly-transmissible Omicron variant, French Prime Minister Jean Castex announced a whole raft of new measures on Monday evening to drive down the surging infection rate.
Measures include new work from home rules, extending face mask mandates to all outside public areas in city centres, closing nightclubs, reimposing attendance limits at some events and reducing the time that people need to wait for a booster vaccine dose to just three months.
In addition, a bill is working its way through Parliament to transform France’s digital health pass into a vaccine pass that will be used to limit access to restaurants, cafes and other public spaces to fully vaccinated people before. A recent negative test will no longer be a permitted alternative.
During his televised speech, Castex also touched on several other measures that included a ban on passengers on long-distance public transport eating or drinking anything.
Castex didn’t go into detail on the hunger-inducing measure which is intended to make sure that passengers have no reason to remove their face masks. It’s believed the food and drink ban might only apply to trains, coaches and busses but it could also be extended to flights as well.
The rules will come into effect on Monday and will last for at least three weeks.
Details on how these restrictions will work in practice haven’t yet been published. The rules may only apply to domestic journeys or it could cover all journeys made to or from France. Further details are expected to be published in the coming days.
Some airlines did prohibit the consumption of food and drink at the start of the pandemic, while the vast majority of airlines slashed onboard service during the first COVID-19 wave. Food and drink service has largely been restored, although some aviation unions have called for an urgent rethink over the Omicron threat.
Air France has mostly returned to its pre-pandemic onboard service and so far at least, the airline hasn’t hinted that it might be forced to stop serving food and drink onboard its flight as a result of the country’s new health rules.
French pandemic rules already dictate that airline passengers aged 11 years and older wear a disposable surgical mask or FFP mask. Cloth masks or masks with a valve are prohibited.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.