Anyone entering a restaurant, cafe, shopping center, hospital or taking a long-distance train in France will have to present a special Covid health pass from August, Emmanuel Macron announced, as France tightens restrictions for contain the booming Delta variant.
The same Covid health pass – which shows that a person has been vaccinated or had a recent negative Covid test – will also be required for anyone over the age of 12 to enter a cinema, theater, museum, theme park or cultural center as early as July 21, the president said, with the aim of putting pressure on more French people to get vaccinated.
“You have understood it, vaccination is not immediately compulsory for everyone, but we will extend the health pass as much as possible, in order to push as many of you as possible to get vaccinated”, a declared the president to the nation.
Macron also announced mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations for workers in healthcare and nursing homes. Vaccine checks of these workers will begin in September, with a risk of sanctions or fines in the event of non-compliance. Mandatory vaccines also apply to all volunteers or staff in contact with elderly or vulnerable people in their homes, including home helpers.
“Our country is facing an upsurge in the epidemic throughout our territory, in metropolitan France as well as overseas,” Macron said at the start of the televised speech. “The situation is under control, but if we do not act now, the number of cases will increase significantly and lead to an increase in hospitalizations,” he said.
France has vaccinated 40% of its population and vaccines are widely available for anyone aged 12 and over. Macron said doses were available and urged the French to do their “civic” duty to obtain a vaccine – which would be recognized with more freedoms – while the government “would put restrictions on the unvaccinated rather than on everyone, ”he said. mentionned.
After Macron’s speech, French medical reservation site Doctolib reported an influx of people seeking to make appointments for vaccines.
From the fall, Covid-19 tests, hitherto free, will be chargeable, except for medical prescription. “This is about encouraging vaccination rather than multiple testing,” Macron said.
Macron’s announcements represent a change of course for the government after several months of gradual lifting of restrictions.
The French government and health advisers have expressed concern about the speed at which the Delta variant is spreading. The Minister of Health, Olivier Veran, called the Delta variant a “new enemy” because it is so much more contagious than the previous strains. The number of new cases in France has jumped to around 4,200 per day, according to the latest official figures available, although the number of hospital deaths – four in the past 24 hours – is low. Around 7,000 people are hospitalized with the Covid in France.
The measures also highlight the different strategies followed in most European countries compared to Britain, where the government on Monday announced it would continue ‘Freedom Day’ next week by lifting most of the brakes. pandemics in England.
Italy has made vaccination against the coronavirus compulsory for health workers and pharmacists. In Denmark, restaurants and public events require a digital pass showing the holder has been fully vaccinated or has had a recent negative test. Some German states require the same for restaurants.
The centrist Macron, who is expected to run for re-election next spring, also took advantage of the televised speech to try to roll back his image as a health crisis manager to that of a reformer he had promised to be before Covid. He said he intended to move forward with the planned overhaul of the French welfare state, promising that his proposal to reform the unemployment benefit system – which angered unions – would go ahead from October. “You always have to earn more by working than staying at home, which is not always the case now,” he said.
Macron also said his proposal to overhaul the complex pension system, which stagnated at the start of the Covid lockdowns in 2020, was still under discussion and could be implemented “when the health situation allows”.