PARIS (Reuters) – France is stepping up its COVID-19 booster vaccination campaign and tightening entry rules for arrivals from outside the European Union in response to the spread of the Omicron variant, a government spokesman said on Wednesday.
Gabriel Attal also said flights from countries in southern Africa, where the variant was first detected last week, would remain suspended until Friday. From Saturday they would resume, but only for travellers returning to their main residences, he said.
The government hopes eight million people in France will have received a third vaccine injection by the end of Wednesday, and 10 million by the end of this week.
There are about 1,100 vaccination centers in operation and the government plans to open 300 more in coming weeks, he added.
Meanwhile, all non-EU arrivals in mainland France, where the Omicron variant has yet to be detected, will henceforth have to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test regardless of their vaccination status, Attal added.
Nearly 51 million, or 76% of France’s population, have received two vaccine shots.
(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Geert De Clercq, writing by Tassilo Hummel; editing by John Stonestreet)