President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday that people who have been vaccinated or tested not recently infected with the Covid-19 virus will be allowed to enter bars, restaurants and shopping centers in France from August as the virus spreads across the country.
The new restrictions will also apply to trains, domestic flights, theaters, parks, concert halls, hospitals and nursing homes. He added that this week the authorities will strengthen border controls and quarantine unvaccinated travelers who have arrived from high-risk countries.
These measures may have a negative impact on tourism in France which is one of the best tourist destinations in the world, as the number of foreign visitors has started to increase.
The rapid spread of the highly contagious delta variant is forcing authorities across Europe to reintroduce health measures to stop it. The Netherlands announced restrictions on nightclubs and music festivals on Friday in response to the arrests, after easing them just weeks ago. In France, a national lockdown and a massive vaccination campaign this spring helped slow the spread of the virus.
But the delta variant now threatens to undo recent progress in beating the virus. After falling from more than 42,000 in mid-April to less than 2,000 at the end of June, the seven-day average of new daily cases has started to rise again in recent days, to about 4,000 cases on Sunday.
If we don’t act today, the number of cases will continue Macron said in a nationwide speech on Monday that the increase was strong and would inevitably lead to an increase in the number of hospitalizations as soon as possible in August.
The number of new hospital admissions and the number of daily deaths remain very low in France. But the slowdown in the pace of vaccinations in recent weeks has raised doctors’ fears that vaccines will not prevent another wave of infections this summer.
According to the French Ministry of Health, more than 53% of the total population of France has received at least one injection of the vaccine and nearly 41% of French people have received a full vaccination. However, the number of first daily injections of the vaccine has been steadily declining in recent weeks as a percentage of the population, including health professionals, has remained reluctant to get vaccinated.
On Monday, Macron said the vaccine would become mandatory on September 15 for health workers and other workers in hospitals and nursing homes. According to the health authorities, less than half of French health workers are vaccinated.
From this fall, people will also have to pay for Covid-19 testing unless they have a prescription, while vaccination will remain free.
Macron said vaccination may become mandatory for the entire population at some point. “If science gives us the means to protect ourselves, we should use them,” he said.
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