French President Emmanuel Macron announced mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for health staff on Monday as well as a tightening of restrictions to fight a recent surge in cases linked to the Delta variant.
The 43-year-old said in a national address that vaccine checks on healthcare and retirement home workers would start in September, while a “Covid pass” system will be extended to restaurants, bars and other public venues from August.
Under the new rules, people wanting to eat or drink out will have to prove they have been vaccinated or have a recent negative test showing they are infection-free.
“Our country is facing a surge in the epidemic across our territory, in mainland France as well as overseas,” Macron said at the start of the televised address.
“The situation is under control, but if we do not act now the number of cases will increase significantly and will lead to a rise in hospitalizations,” he said.
He laid out a strategy to combat a fourth wave of infections that was based on a further push to vaccinate people over the summer and increasing the costs for people who have decided to shun the jabs.
“We will have the same approach, recognizing the civicism (of those that have been vaccinated) and putting in restrictions on the non-vaccinated rather than on everyone,” he said.
The announcements represent a change in direction for the government after several months of progressively lifting restrictions and they underline the concern about the potential impact of the more infectious Delta variant.
The measures also underscore the different strategies being followed in most European countries compared with Britain, where the government announced Monday it would press ahead with “Freedom Day” next week by lifting most pandemic curbs in England.
The number of new cases in France has jumped to around 4,200 a day, according to the latest available official figures, although the number of deaths in hospital – four in the past 24 hours – is low.
Around 7,000 people with COVID-19 are in hospital in France.
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