FRANCE has ramped up its Covid restrictions amid fears of a “megawave” of Omicron as the country recorded more than 100,000 new cases.
Starting from next week, working from home will become compulsory for those who can and public gatherings will be limited to 2,000 people for indoor events.
France has been hit with a record number of new cases amid fears of a covid ‘mega wave’Credit: PA
Our graph lays bare the surging number of new cases in France
The news comes as France recorded more than 100,000 new infections on Saturday — a new record since the pandemic began.
A string of hugely positive studies have shown Omicron IS milder than other strains, with the first official UK report revealing the risk of hospitalisation is 50 to 70 per cent lower than with Delta.
Covid booster jabs protect against Omicron and offer the best chance to get through the pandemic, health officials have repeatedly said.
The Sun’s Jabs Army campaign has been helping get the vital extra vaccines in Brits’ arms to ward off the need for any new restrictions.
But while Omicron is milder than the Delta variant, France fears the sheer number of new cases now being reported there could overwhelm hospitals.
Unveiling the new measures, French Prime Minister Jean Castex said the covid crisis felt like “a film without ending”.
Mr Castex said: “We are in a race against the clock.
“Even if we do not yet see hospitals as overloaded by Omicron, the contagiousness of the variant and the speed at which it is spreading require us to go further.”
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Health minister Oliver Véran said that Covid case numbers are doubling every two days and warned of a “mega wave” when the fifth wave of cases of the Delta variant of the virus collides with the new wave of Omicron cases.
He warned coronavirus infections were doubling every two days.
Under the new rules in France, people will also have to sit down during concerts and customers will not be allowed to stand up in bars.
Consumption of food and drink will be banned on public r transport — including long-distance trains — as well as in cinemas.
We are in a race against the clock
But the French government did stop short of imposing drastic restrictions before New Year’s Eve.
Britain meanwhile is taking a more measured approach as it was revealed Covid hospital admissions are down more than 50 per cent when compared to this time last year.
The positive figures back Boris Johnson’s decision to rule out a New Year’s Eve lockdown in England, and are further a proof that Omicron appears to be a less-severe variant.
And new restrictions might not even be introduced in 2022 thanks to the success of the UK’s booster jab campaign.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid however recommended that people remain cautious and continue to get their jabs.
“While there is still a lot of uncertainty around this new variant, we do know that our very best form of defence is vaccination,” he said.
European countries meanwhile are tightening Covid rules as infections rise and the new Omicron variant spreads through the continent.
More than 16,000 are currently hospitalised for the virus in France, including 3,300 patients in intensive care.
The head of the ICU at La Timone hospital in Marseille, France, said most Covid patients over Christmas had not received their jabs.
Dr. Julien Carvelli told how hospital staff are worn out amid the surge while many cannot work as they have also become infected.
“We’re sick of this,” he fumed. “We’re afraid we won’t have enough space.”
The country has recorded over 1,000 deaths over the last seven days, bringing the total death toll to over 122,000.
Nursing assistants tend to a patient infected with the coronavirus at the Antoine Beclere hospital in Clamart, outside ParisCredit: AFP
France’s Prime Minister Jean Castex said the pandemic ‘felt like a film without an ending’Credit: AFP