Developments in the health situation in recent days make it clear that the virus is actively circulating in the Principality of Monaco. Although the Christmas holidays, a time of increased social interaction, are coming to an end, the number of people testing positive is increasing.
The rise in the number of people who are testing positive for COVID-19 should be viewed in the context of the mass rollout of testing in Monaco. Effectively, the more tests that are carried out, the more infected people will be identified. In the last two weeks – over the holiday period – 7,000 PCR and antigen tests have been conducted. Last week (28 December to 3 January), 7.66% of tests were positive.
The earlier measures taken by the Prince’s Government in consultation with the National Council mean that testing on a large scale is possible. Monaco now has the capacity to conduct 16,000 tests per 100,000 inhabitants every week. The Prince’s Government encourages any resident or employee who has spent time abroad to get tested. Those wishing to obtain a test can contact the COVID-19 Call Centre on 92 05 55 00. A large, voluntary testing campaign involving teaching staff and pupils is also under way.
It is against this specific background that the Government was keen to engage in discussion with members of the National Council through the Joint Monitoring Committee early in the new year, on Monday 4 January. While access to restaurants in the Principality has been restricted for people coming from outside the country since 2 January, the Joint Monitoring Committee agreed that there was a need for greater vigilance and to step up checks. Remember that only those who live or work in Monaco may eat or drink in the Principality’s restaurants. Violations may result in penalties for those responsible.
In addition, and again with a view to limiting the movements of people in the Principality, the Government, in agreement with the National Council delegation, recommends the widespread adoption of teleworking in the private and public sectors until further notice. The aim is to reduce the number of people coming into the Principality from outside while ensuring that the economy continues to function.
- Within the public service sector, home working will become the norm from the end of the week in all departments, although services will remain open to the public.
- In the private sector, where the nature of an employee’s work allows and the employer can provide the employee with the appropriate equipment, home working should be implemented with the employee’s agreement, unless the employee is on sick leave. Ultimately, any job that does not require the employee’s physical presence in the workplace in order to be effectively performed should be done from home.
The various institutions and businesses in the Principality will be reminded of these measures.
The Joint Monitoring Committee also discussed sport. The Prince’s Government has decided to close gyms and swimming pools and to prohibit, more generally, the practice of sport in closed spaces, including school sports, for three weeks (until 27 January inclusive). Sports coaches can, however, continue to offer private lessons to one person only (indoors or outdoors).
The move to close gyms was not approved by the majority of National Council representatives, who did not believe that the case had been made for this action, given the measures put in place by those who work in the sector. The Government nonetheless considered it to be justified. Despite strict health protocols, the health authorities believe that intense physical activity in an enclosed space is risky. Targeted assistance measures may be introduced to support the operators of these facilities.
In addition, the Prince’s Government noted that residents of the Principality who test positive are now being invited to stay in a hotel to avoid infecting other members of their family. The idea is to offer the option of isolation for those testing positive who want to take it up.
A large number of infections occur within families, and this is even more common following the Christmas festivities. Once again, the health authorities stress the importance of complying with barrier measures such as wearing a mask, washing or sanitising hands regularly and ensuring that homes are well ventilated.
Finally, the Joint Monitoring Committee addressed the issue of vaccines. The Government gave a detailed presentation of the planned vaccination protocol for the campaign which began last week with those aged over 75. Vaccinations will continue at an increased rate, with the over 65s set to receive their invitations to come forward by post in the coming days. Healthcare staff will also be invited for vaccination as a matter of priority.
The members of the Joint Monitoring Committee agreed that voluntary vaccination was the only measure able to offer real protection to people in the Principality.