The preference cascade for ending covid restrictions continues to spread around the world as more nations embrace the idea the coronavirus is now endemic, with some amount of infections and transmissions inevitably occurring.
This week, the French are ending vaccine passport requirements . . . just ahead of the upcoming presidential election.
Rules requiring people to show a COVID-19 vaccine passport to access venues will be lifted in France on March 14 – about a month before the presidential election – saidFrench [sic] Prime Minister Jean Castex, as the country gradually eases COVID health protocols amid signs the virus is receeding [sic] in France.
In the wake of this move, French President Emmanuel Macron announced he would run for a second term in the April French presidential election.
In terms of the new French rules, masks will also not be required indoors (with the exception of public transport). School children will not be required to mask, either.
Private businesses will still be able to make mask-wearing a condition of entry.
Castex did not mention schools, but his office later clarified that masks will no longer be required in the classroom.
The government still recommends masks for at-risk positive and contact cases, symptomatic individuals and health care professionals.
Belgium will be scrapping its vaccine passport and masking requirements as well starting March 7th.
Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said that the major easing of measures has come almost exactly two years since the pandemic first struck the country, which is home to NATO and EU institutions.
“I think it is an important page that we are turning. It is a symbol principally of our resilience and perseverance faced with a pandemic that gave us little chance to rest,” he told a news conference.
From Monday, Belgians wanting to dine in a restaurant, drink in a bar or visit a museum or cinema will no longer need to show a COVID pass, proving vaccination, recent recovery from infection or a negative test.
There is even more good news for those who may wish to travel to Europe, at least while there is still a Europe to travel too. There is a move do drop pre-travel covid test requirements and to embrace an approach that recognizes naturally obtained immunity.
The Council of the European Union recommended on Jan. 25 that member nations apply a “person-based approach” — rather than a country-based one — that allowed free travel for those with an EU digital Covid certificate that showed proof of vaccination with an EU-approved vaccine, a recent negative Covid test or recovery from an infection.
On Feb. 22, the Council recommended member nations open more broadly to travelers from outside of the EU as well — with the caveat that they be vaccinated or have recently recovered. The recommendation did not include a provision to allow outsiders in with only negative Covid test results, however.
…Most countries require that travelers be vaccinated because “they’re not going to put a strain on the country,” agreed Dale Fisher, group chief of medicine at Singapore’s National University Health System.
Pre-travel testing is different, he said, calling it both inconvenient and unsustainable.
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