For several weeks, as in other regions of Europe, the number of positive cases of COVID-19 has been increasing, due to the spread of the Delta variant. Most of these cases involve young, unvaccinated people returning from a stay abroad. These people are, moreover, very often at the origin of a chain of infection within the family or among friends in the Principality. In June, almost 60% of infected residents were aged between 0 and 29. The incidence rate is rising among 6-18 year olds.
In view of the way in which the situation is evolving, the Sovereign Prince has approved the Government's proposal to reintroduce the compulsory wearing of masks throughout the Principality as from Saturday 24 July for all persons over 5 years of age. A noticeable decrease in compliance with the current regulations in the areas where masks must be worn and the strengthening of health protection justify the reinstatement of this obligation.
To limit the importation of the virus to the greatest extent possible and to avoid the transfer of non-vaccinated customers to Monegasque establishments following the measures recently announced in France, the obligation to present a health pass to access restaurants and bars will now be extended to residents of the Alpes-Maritimes and the province of Imperia. This measure will enter into force from Saturday 24 July. An exemption to this rule will still be maintained, at this stage, for residents of the Principality and employees.
With regard to events, shows and sporting events, the 70% capacity limit is being maintained. Similarly, the requirement to present a health pass for any event with a capacity of 1,000 people remains in force.
In general, minors under the age of 16 will not be required to present a health pass.
As from 15 August 2021, PCR tests undertaken without a medical prescription will no longer be reimbursed. However, the National Screening Centre will continue to test residents free of charge without a prescription. Employees who wish to be tested at the Centre will have to present a medical prescription.
The reduced number of hospitalised and elderly patients who test positive demonstrates the benefits of vaccination, which is effective in providing protection. It is therefore imperative to further increase the vaccination coverage of the population in order to avoid any further restrictions. This concerns both young and older people, who are more vulnerable to the virus. Today, 13% of people over 75 and 32% of those aged 65-75 are not yet vaccinated. To achieve the greatest possible herd immunity, it is important to vaccinate the entire population concerned. The Princes' Government reminds you that vaccination is still available free of charge to Monegasques and residents over the age of 12, as well as employees over the age of 50. The Government calls upon those who have not yet been vaccinated to come and do so, in order to protect themselves and others.
The progress of vaccination and the limited number of hospitalised patients has at times led to a relaxation of barrier measures. Although vaccination is the most effective weapon against the pandemic, it can only be fully effective once the vast majority of the population has been vaccinated. In the meantime, therefore, it is essential to continue to adhere strictly to all barrier measures and be tested on return from a stay abroad. The aim is to break any possible chain of infection immediately.
These decisions by H.S.H. Prince Albert II follow on from the proposals made by His Government in consultation with the National Council and the professions concerned. The Prince's Government recalls that it may modify the health measures in line with changes in the situation.