French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday ordered all French health workers to be vaccinated against the virus by September 15 and urged all his compatriots to get vaccinated as soon as possible, to fight the resurgent infections that threaten the recovery economy of the country.
In a televised address, Macron also mandated special COVID-19 passes for anyone wishing to visit a restaurant, shopping mall or hospital or board a train or plane. To get a pass, people must have proof that they are fully vaccinated, or have recently recovered from the virus, or have been retested for the virus negative.
The delta variant is once again raising viral infections in France, just as the country launched the summer holiday season after a long-awaited reopening. About 40% of the French population is fully vaccinated.
“To get vaccinated!” was the president’s general message. He even tweeted a GIF of himself repeating the phrase.
“The country is facing a strong resumption of the epidemic affecting our entire territory,” said Macron, speaking against the backdrop of the Eiffel Tower. Warning of a new wave of potential hospitalizations in August, he said: âThe equation is simple. The more we vaccinate, the less room we leave for this virus to circulate.
But he stopped before any further lockdown action, declaring “We have to learn to live with the virus.”
Macron said the government would again declare a state of medical emergency from Tuesday, giving authorities more freedom to impose restrictions on viruses.
Most European governments have been reluctant to make vaccinations compulsory. But after tens of thousands of people infected with the virus died in French retirement homes, Macron said vaccination is essential for all workers in healthcare facilities or retirement homes, and any workers or volunteers who take care of the elderly or sick at home. Those who do not get the vaccine before September 15 will face penalties or potential fines, he said.
Greece announced on Monday that health workers would be suspended if they refused to be vaccinated. Italy has made the coronavirus vaccination mandatory for healthcare workers and pharmacists, and those who retire risk being suspended from their jobs or cut wages.
In Denmark, restaurants and public events require a digital pass indicating that you have been fully vaccinated or have a recent negative test. Some German states are demanding the same for restaurants, although suggestions to make vaccines mandatory have sparked widespread unease.
In France, vaccines are widely available for anyone 12 years of age and older. But interest has waned in recent weeks due to reluctance to get vaccinated, a feeling the virus is no longer a threat and because some people have postponed their injections after their summer vacation. Demand started to rise again over the weekend as people braced for Macron’s announcements.
Macron also said on Monday that France would start charging money for certain virus tests, which so far have all been free to anyone on French territory.
Meanwhile, French restaurants and bars are thriving again, the Tour de France cycle race draws tight crowds across the country, and Hollywood stars pose arm in arm and maskless on the Cannes Film Festival red carpet. Kisses on the cheeks are making a comeback.
After remaining closed for nine months since the start of the pandemic, Parisian restaurateurs have expressed their concern at the challenges of applying the new requirements.
âIt used to be our job to make sure our guests had a good time while they were with us. Now we spend our time berating them. We weren’t trained for this,â the manager said. of the Parisian restaurant Bancs Public, Louis le Mahieu. He said he would follow all new health rules, but warned the new measures would likely lead to new costs and lower returns.
For Gauthier Max, whose Mama Kin bar was slapped with a nine-day closure for violating COVID-19 measures, restaurants and bars are no longer places of recreation but have become spaces of constraints and restrictions.
“We have effectively become police officers,” he told The Associated Press.
Viral infections in France started to rise again two weeks ago. The number of people in French hospitals and intensive care units has been declining for weeks, but doctors predict it will also increase when the rise in delta-variant infections hits vulnerable populations, such as in Britain and Spain .
Meanwhile, Macron also met with figures from the auto industry on Monday as he tried to combine his virus warnings with a message of hope for one of the world’s largest economies. New infections threaten France’s all-important tourism industry and Macron’s ambitious economic stimulus plan, just nine months away from the next presidential election he is expected to run for.
Macron tries to slow down delta variant and boost vaccines
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