France bans unvaccinated people from most public venues: Latest COVID-19 updates – USA TODAY

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France passed a law Sunday that will exclude unvaccinated people from all restaurants, sports arenas, and other venues, one of the strictest measures taken by a country to stop the spread of COVID-19.

French President Emmanuel Macron had hoped to push the bill through faster, but it was slightly delayed by resistance from lawmakers both on the right and left and hundreds of proposed amendments. The National Assembly adopted the law by a vote of 215-58.

A COVID-19 pass was already required in France to go to restaurants, movie theaters, museums and many sites throughout the country, but unvaccinated people have been allowed in if they show a recent negative test or proof of recent recovery.

Now, unvaccinated people will be denied at the door regardless. 

More than 91% of French adults are already fully vaccinated, and some critics have questioned whether the “vaccine pass” will make a significant difference.

The French government is hoping the law will slow hospitalizations without resorting to another lockdown. New restrictions would both hurt the economy and endanger Macron’s reelection in the April 10 presidential vote. 

Also in the news:

►The Biden administration on Wednesday will launch a website where Americans can order up to four free COVID-19 testing kits per person. The tests will be available at COVIDTest.gov and mailed to homes within 7-12 days through the U.S. Postal Service.

►Las Vegas schools are offering retention bonuses of up to $2,000 for full-time employees who remain at work during the coronavirus pandemic in response to staffing shortages. 

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 65 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 850,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 327 million cases and over 5.5 million deaths. More than 208 million Americans – 62.9% – are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

📘 What we’re reading: They got rich off ‘COVID money’ and flaunted it. Now they’re under investigation. How did a wedding photographer and a failed donut shop owner get $124 million in federal cash for COVID-19 testing? Read more here

Keep refreshing this page for the latest news. Want more? Sign up for USA TODAY’s free Coronavirus Watch newsletter to receive updates directly to your inbox and join our Facebook group.

Novak Djokovic lands in Serbia after deportation from Australia

Novak Djokovic arrived in his native Serbia on Monday after being deported from Australia because he was not vaccinated against COVID-19, ending his hopes of defending his Australian Open title.

The tennis star’s exit from Australia closed at least the first chapter in a dizzying drama that has resonance in the world of elite sports, Australian pandemic politics and the polarized debate over the COVID-19 shots. But at the same time another chapter opened as questions arose over whether he would be barred from the next Grand Slam tournament, the French Open.

A plane carrying the No. 1-ranked player from his stopover in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, touched down in the Serbian capital, Belgrade, where he is expected to receive a hero’s welcome. A handful of fans waving the Serbian flag greeted him at the airport.

Djokovic had argued in an Australian court he should be allowed to stay and compete because a recent coronavirus infection meant he was exempt from strict vaccination rules. But Australian authorities cited the public interest in revoking his visa, saying his presence could stir up anti-vaccine sentiments and that kicking him out was necessary to keep Australians safe.

— Associated Press

Omicron variant closing daycare centers in droves

If you’re a working parent with young kids, chances are the new year hasn’t been as happy as you’d hoped. Omicron is raging, guidance is constantly changing, vaccines aren’t approved for little children and coronavirus test kits are in short supply. 

Reliable, affordable child care options are scarce. Centers cancel classes or close altogether as employees call in sick or leave their jobs. COVID-19 cases crop up at day cares, where internal spread used to be somewhat limited. 

“You had so many programs that were under the impression that they weathered the worst of the storm,” said Rhian Evans Allvin,  CEO of the National Association for the Education of Young Children. “Now they’re back in program-delivery crisis, and they’re back in economic crisis.” Read more here.

— Alia Wong, USA TODAY

Contributing: The Associated Press