French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to require health care workers to get a COVID-19 vaccine, as the Delta variant spreads across Europe, the Associated Press reported.
Macron will convene a top-level virus security meeting Monday to discuss new COVID-19 measures, including possibly requiring special COVID-19 passes for restaurants and other day-to-day activities.
Officials said new restrictions will be relatively mild.
“We have to live with the virus,” Europe Minister Clement Beaune told AP on Sunday. “Living with the virus means we don’t re-close everything.”
Approximately 40 percent of France’s population is vaccinated and vaccines are widely available for those age 12 and over. However, demand for vaccines has slowed, due to hesitancy, a sense that the pandemic is over and because some people decided to put off their shots until after summer vacation, according to AP.
For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.
Macron may also announce other measures: A return to limits on the number of people allowed in public venues that just reawakened in May after one of the world’s longest shutdowns. Or an announcement that France could start charging money for some virus tests, which up to now have been free for everyone on French territory.
Italy made the coronavirus vaccination obligatory for health care workers and pharmacists, and those who opt out risk suspension from their jobs or a salary cut. In Denmark, restaurants and public events require a digital pass showing you’ve been fully vaccinated or have a recent negative test. Some German states require the same for restaurants, though suggestions of making vaccines obligatory have prompted widespread unease.
Meanwhile, French restaurants and bars are thriving again, the Tour de France is drawing tightly packed crowds across the country, and Hollywood stars are posing arm-in-arm and mask-free on the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival. Cheek kisses are making a comeback.
As the La Bellevilloise nightclub reopened Friday in eastern Paris, the owner braced for the possibility that the party could be short-lived. But clubgoers were exhilarated at rediscovering the dance scene.
Parisian Laurent Queige called it “a liberation, an immense happiness.” Clubgoer Sophie Anne Descoubès said she was impressed by the rigor of how the club checked her QR code showing she’d been either fully vaccinated or freshly tested, saying, “I don’t have any apprehension, just a great joy and the desire to stomp.”
France’s virus infections started rising again two weeks ago, and health service SOS Medecins registered a slight rise in demand for emergency virus treatment over the weekend. The number of people in French hospitals and intensive care units has been declining for weeks, but doctors predict it too will rise when the increase in delta variant infections hits vulnerable populations, as it has in Britain and Spain.
Meanwhile, Macron also met with car industry figures Monday as he tries to combine his virus warnings with a message of hope for one of the world’s biggest economies. New infections are threatening France’s all-important tourism industry and Macron’s ambitious economic recovery plan—just nine months before the next presidential election.