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PARIS: The Omicron coronavirus variant is now suspected to be responsible for up to 10% of new confirmed COVID-19 cases in France and is the main reason behind plans for stricter health requirements for entering some venues, the health minister said on Saturday.

The new vaccination pass set to be introduced early next year will require people to show proof of vaccination to enter restaurants and long-distance public transport. Under the current regulations, a recent negative COVID-19 test is sufficient for entering many indoor public places.

Paris cancels New Year's Eve fireworks as Omicron spreads

Plans for the new pass were announced by Prime Minister Jean Castex on Friday.

Health Minister Olivier Veran, speaking on France Inter radio, also said that he expected that early next week the French health authority will give the green light to start offering coronavirus vaccinations to children aged 5 to 11.

For now, only children with serious health conditions or additional health risks can be given the shots.

Veran said that he hoped that voluntary vaccination for all children could start on Dec. 22.

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