The French government on Monday enacted a new law that will prevent unvaccinated people from entering most public places such as restaurants, bars, tourist sites and sports venues.
The measure, which applies to anyone aged 16 and over who has not been vaccinated against the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, does not apply to those who have recently recovered from the disease.
Since last summer, France has required a “health pass” to go to any cafe, museum, cinema, or take a regional train or domestic flight. But until Monday, unvaccinated people could activate the pass by getting a recent negative test.
The new initiative comes amid fears by French health authorities that the European nation is facing a surge in COVID-19 cases, with France recording the highest daily number of CCP virus infections ever recorded in Europe.
According to data from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, France has a higher number of inoculations than the European average, with nearly 76% of its population fully vaccinated, compared to an average of 69.7% in the regions of the European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA).
Updating the country’s vaccination pass is part of President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to make life so difficult for the unvaccinated that they will eventually have to get shot.
Critics have questioned Macron’s decision and doubt the vaccine could make much of a difference in a country where 94% of adults have already received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Macron recently drew criticism from the public and political opponents after unveiling his COVID-19 vaccination plan, saying his strategy is to ‘piss off’ those who refuse to get vaccinated and give their lives back. harder so that they end up getting stung.
“I’m not for pissing off the French… Now the unvaccinated, I really want to piss them off. And so, we will continue to do so, until the end. That’s the strategy,” Macron said in an interview with Le Parisien earlier this month.
The French president said several days later that he stood by his earlier comment, saying it was his responsibility to sound the alarm given the threat posed by the Omicron variant of the CCP virus.
“I stand by my previous comments,” Macron said, stressing that it was the authorities’ obligation to impose restrictions on those who are not vaccinated, in order to protect French citizens who are vaccinated.
To be considered ‘fully immunized’ under the vaccination pass, children in the 12-17 age bracket will not be required to take the booster, but adults will need to take it. France, meanwhile, on Monday opened access to booster injections to 12-17 year olds.
Omicron is less likely to cause severe disease than the previous Delta variant, studies show. Omicron spreads more easily than other CCP virus strains and has already become dominant in many countries. It more easily infects those who have been vaccinated or previously infected with earlier versions of COVID-19, studies show.
The French government has imposed a few other restrictions amid a new wave sparked by Omicron, focusing instead on the country’s “vaccine pass”, which was approved by parliament and the Constitutional Council last week.
For months in a row, the country has been hit hard by massive protests against government-imposed restrictions on the CCP virus, including this weekend, when tens of thousands of people across the country protested the new policy, saying the enhanced measures would infringe on everyday freedoms.
Since December 1, 2021, when the “vaccine pass” was announced, protesters have regularly taken to the streets to rally against the mandate.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.