French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday ordered all French healthcare workers to get the COVID-19 vaccine by September 15, and urged all of his countrymen to get vaccinated as soon as possible, to fight an outbreak of infection that threatens the country’s economic recovery.
In a televised address, Macron also issued special COVID-19 passes to anyone who wants to go to a restaurant, shopping mall, hospital, or board a train or plane. To get a permit, people must have proof that they have been fully vaccinated, have recently recovered from the virus, or have had a new negative virus test.
The delta variant is causing virus infections to rebound in France once again, just as the country has begun its summer holiday season after its long-awaited reopening. About 40 percent of France’s entire population is fully vaccinated.
“Take the vaccine!” It 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 that touches all of our territories,” Macron said, speaking against the backdrop of the Eiffel Tower. Warning of a new wave of potential hospitalizations in August, he said: “The equation is simple: the more vaccines there are, the less space we leave for the spread of this virus.”
But he declined to take any new lockdown measures, saying: “We have to learn to live with the virus.”
Macron said the government will declare a medical emergency again from Tuesday, giving authorities more freedom to impose virus restrictions.
Possible penalties or fines
Most European governments have moved away from imposing vaccinations. But after tens of thousands of people infected with the virus died in French nursing homes, Macron said vaccination was necessary for all workers in health care facilities or nursing homes, as well as all workers or volunteers who care for the elderly or sick at home.
He said those who do not get vaccinated by September 15 will face potential penalties or fines.
Greece announced on Monday that health care workers will be suspended if they refuse to be vaccinated. Italy has made vaccination against the coronavirus mandatory for healthcare workers and pharmacists, and those who have chosen to stop working due to danger or have their salaries cut.
In Denmark, restaurants and public events require a digital permit showing that patrons have been fully vaccinated or have recently had a negative test. Some German states are requiring the same for restaurants, although suggestions to make vaccinations mandatory have sparked widespread concern.
In France, vaccines are widely available to anyone 12 years of age or older. But interest has waned in recent weeks due to vaccine hesitancy and a sense that the virus is no longer a threat. Some people put off filming until after their summer vacation. Demand started to rise again over the weekend as people prepared for Macron’s announcement.
French medical booking website Doctolib was temporarily suspended on Monday as thousands of citizens scrambled to book COVID-19 footage after Macron’s national address.
Minutes after the speech, users of the Doctolib website and mobile app received a message stating that due to the large number of connections, they would have to keep their browser open in order for the site to process their requests.
At about 8:40 p.m. local time, just 10 minutes after the president finished speaking, the site’s estimated wait time was more than 20 minutes. Doctolib is the largest of several websites on the Internet where people can book vaccination appointments.
Macron also announced, on Monday, that France will start charging fees for some virus tests, all of which have so far been free for anyone on French soil.
Reopening brings enforcement concerns
Meanwhile, French restaurants and bars are booming again, the Tour de France bicycle race draws packed crowds across the country, and Hollywood stars pose with their arms, mask-free, on the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival. Cheek kisses are back.
After staying closed for nine months since the pandemic began, restaurateurs in Paris have expressed concern about the challenges of enforcing the new requirements.
“Our job was to make sure our guests had a great time while they were with us. Now, we’re spending our time scolding them. We haven’t trained for this,” said Louis Le Maheu, director of the Parisian club. He said he would abide by any new health rules, but cautioned that the new measures would likely lead to new costs and lower revenue.
For Gauthier Max, whose Mama Kin bar has been under a nine-day closure for violating COVID-19 measures, restaurants and bars are no longer places of entertainment but places of restrictions and restrictions.
“We’ve effectively become cops,” he told The Associated Press.
Virus infections in France began to rise again two weeks ago. The number of people in French hospitals and intensive care units is down for weeks, but doctors expect it will also rise when the increase in delta-variable infections hits vulnerable populations, as happened in Britain and Spain.
Meanwhile, Macron also met with auto industry figures on Monday in an effort to combine his warnings of the virus with a message of hope for one of the world’s largest economies. New infections threaten France’s critical tourism industry and Macron’s ambitious economic recovery plan – just nine months before the next presidential election he is expected to contest.