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France to tackle Covid fourth wave with stricter border controls, health passports and compulsory vaccines

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France to tackle Covid fourth wave with stricter border controls, health passports and compulsory vaccines
French Border Police (PAF) officers control passengers arriving from the Tunisian capital of Tunis at Nice airport in Nice, southern France, on February 22, 2021. - The French Riviera will go into lockdown for the next two weekends to contain Covid-19 which has been spreading faster in the tourist hotspot than elsewhere in France, the region's top official said on February 22, 2021. Controls at airports and at the land border the southern Alpes-Maritimes region shares with Italy would be tightened over the next two weeks, prefect Bernard Gonzalez said, and stores larger than 5,000 metres square (54,000 square feet) would be closed. (Photo by Valery HACHE / AFP)

French President Emmanuel Macron has announced a package of measures to help France control a fourth wave of Covid cases, including stricter border controls, the extension of the health passport for more everyday activities and making the vaccine compulsory for all healthcare workers.

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The president made the announcement in a live TV appearance as France faces a rapid increase in Covid cases driven by the delta variant.

Although overall numbers remain low - a weekly average of 5,000 new cases a week - they are climbing rapidly and the more transmissible delta variant of Covid is now the dominant strain in France.

"Our country is facing a surge in the epidemic across our territory, in mainland France as well as overseas," Macron said at the start of the televised address.

"The situation is under control, but if we do not act now the number of cases will increase significantly and will lead to a rise in hospitalisations," he said.

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Urging everyone to get vaccinated as quickly as possible, the president laid out four main changes to the existing health policies.

Compulsory vaccines - from September 15th, the vaccine will become compulsory for healthcare workers and those who work with the elderly and vulnerable.

Macron said: "For health and non-health workers in hospitals, clinics, retirement homes, establishments for people with disabilities, for all professionals and volunteers who work in contact with elderly or vulnerable people, including in their homes, the vaccine will become obligatory."

Calendar: France tightens the rules ahead of fourth wave of covid

Unvaccinated healthcare workers "will not be able to work and will not be paid" from September 15th, Health Minister Olivier Véran told LCI on Monday evening following the President's announcements.

"Depending on the evolution of the situation, we will without doubt have to consider obligatory vaccines for everyone in France," Macron continued.

"But I am making the choice to trust, and I am solemnly calling upon all our fellow citizens who aren’t vaccinated to go get vaccinated as soon as possible.”

He added that vaccination "is the only path back towards a normal life".

 

Health passport extension - The pass sanitaire (health passport) will be expanded until it is required for entry to venues including cinemas, restaurants, cafés, bars, nursing homes and for long-distance train and bus travel.

The health passport - giving proof of either vaccinated status, a negative Covid test or recent recovery from Covid - is already in use in France via the Tous Anti Covid app, but at present is used only for large venues like concerts and sports matches.

From July 21st it will be expanded to leisure and culture venues with more than 50 people such as cinemas, theatres and museums.

From the beginning of August - an exact date was not announced - it will be expanded again for use to enter bars, cafés, restaurants, hospitals, nursing homes and for long-distance travel by coach and train.

READ ALSO Can tourists use France's health passport?

In the 12 hours following the president's announcement, more than 1.3 million people went online to make a vaccine appointment.

OPINION: Macron is now coercing the French into getting vaccinated - and it seems that they like it

Charges for PCR tests - In the autumn - no exact date was given - non-medical PCR Covid tests will have to be paid for. This covers tests taken for travel purposes or for the health passport, but Covid tests taken for medical reasons such as for people with Covid symptoms or contact cases will continue to be free.

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He did not specify how much the tests would be, but the cost of tests for non-residents of France is capped at €49.

The president referred only to PCR tests, but government spokesperson Gabriel Attal later confirmed to BFMTV that "this concerns both PCR and antigen tests."

Travel restrictions -  Macron said the borders would be 'reinforced' with extra checks at the border and compulsory quarantine for unvaccinated people coming from high risk countries.

He said: "From this week, controls at our borders will be strengthened for those coming from high-risk countries, with strict isolation for unvaccinated travellers.”

Europe minister Clément Beaune later clarified that this involves tighter restrictions on unvaccinated entry from the UK, Spain and Portugal - full details here.

State of emergency - The French overseas départements of Réunion and Martinique have been placed back under a state of health emergency from Tuesday, but for mainland France, no extra restrictions such as lockdown or closures were announced.

Covid case numbers in France, which had been falling steadily for many weeks, have in the past fortnight plateaued and begun to rise again.

Although the daily figures remain relatively low - a weekly average of 5,000 cases a day - health experts are concerned that the delta variant of the virus could drive a very rapid rise in case numbers, as has already happened across the Channel where the UK is recording 35,000 cases a day.

Data from the UK, which has a higher percentage of the population vaccinated than France, shows that hospitalisation rates are rising, but much more slowly than in earlier phases of the virus.

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Comments (10)

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Anonymous 2021/07/15 00:03
Wonderful news! I support making them compulsory for everyone. Every person has a responsibility and obligation to get the vaccine. Not just for yourself but to protect your fellow humans. This is a bold and necessary move on Macron’s part.
  • Anonymous 2021/07/20 14:29
    Wow. You're quite a bit of a dictator yourself. If you're vaccinated, you're safe - right? So, what does it matter if someone else is vaccinated or not? If you want to take the vaccine, take it. You must believe it's effective, correct? What's the point in taking it if it's not effective? This is about control. It's not about health. Police don't have to take it. Why do you think that is? Can't they spread the virus? There are so many inconsistencies in this agenda... open your eyes. We Are Being Lied To.
Daniela.Provvedi_305595 2021/07/14 21:38
My body, my choice! I will not be forced to get this experimental injection into my body! If I'll not be allowed to go to various venues, so be it.
Anonymous 2021/07/13 10:59
Is there any information about people vaccinated outside the EU who don't have a QR code (I have a US vaccine card)? Will we be stuck unable to go anywhere unless we get revaccinated in France?
  • thelocal_462458 2021/07/13 12:19
    You’ll be fine with your paper card. Most everyone here uses apps either.
Anonymous 2021/07/13 08:48
Measured and reasonable steps being taken and a timely reminder to the populace not to let down their guard just because it is summer. Also notably (and pleasantly) absent from the address were false promises and arbitrary deadlines. Post presidency he could do well to open a finishing school for aspirant world leaders... :-)
  • Anonymous 2021/07/13 10:09
    " Post presidency he could do well to open a finishing school for aspirant world leaders… " I do hope that was sarcasm?
Anonymous 2021/07/13 08:02
So basically he's doing bugger all like he did the same time last year and look what happened in the autumn. Let's face it, money is more important then health and after all there is an election due. Even the Dutch PM had the guts to apologise for opening up the country too early.
  • thelocal_462458 2021/07/13 09:27
    He massively increased incentives to get vaccinated and added safety precautions against virus spread. Eventually this will go towards a semi-lockdown only for unvaccinated. How is this “bugger all” ?
Anonymous 2021/07/12 22:58
The French Government have invited fully vaccinated Brits and Americans into the country as tourists for the summer. However, vaccine certificates from both countries can not be downloaded to the French Health Pass. So, does this mean that any American or British tourists in the country when these measures take place will not be able to book a train trip in the country or go to any restaurants or museums as they will not have the French Health Pass?
  • thelocal_462458 2021/07/13 00:48
    Vaccination certificates will be checked at the point of entry - not during booking. At the time of checks you can show alternative forms of certificates.
Anonymous 2021/07/12 22:41
None of this sits very well with VDL's joyous announcement a few days ago that the EU's vaccination programme was going brilliantly. Meanwhile, across the Channel, no mandatory vaccinations on the general population, no health passports and no restrictions at all from next week. Something doesn't add up.
  • thelocal_462458 2021/07/13 00:55
    UK has 7-8 times more COVID cases already, and the numbers keep going up even before the removal of restrictions next week. Hospitalisations are rapidly increasing too. And that's despite the higher vaccination numbers. It would appear that the French government doesn't want to conduct the same libertarian experiment as the Tories are imposing on Britain - the same experiment on 'herd immunity by infection' that they tried first in March 2020. Britain is the Petri dish of the world and that's nothing to brag about.
Anonymous 2021/07/12 21:07
what has not been explained yet is how to get medical exemption from the vaccine I have health issues which would mean taking the vaccine could be dangerous no explanation as to how to get exemption and / or will it be added to the health certificate app
  • nick_60b6332613adc 2021/07/12 21:59
    Then you will need to get a Covid test which you can then upload to the app.
Anonymous 2021/07/12 20:38
I have also been fully vaccinated with AstraZenica when living in Dubai , will my vaccinations details be accepted on the french app ?
  • Anonymous 2021/07/12 21:22
    I pressume only if it is 'the right' = not made in India AZ vaccine, because the Indian AZ is not EU approved yet.
  • thelocal_462458 2021/07/12 20:41
    App only works with French or EU / EEA / Swiss vaccinations.
Anonymous 2021/07/12 20:27
Any idea how the health passport works for tourists or French citizens who have been vaccinated in other countries.
  • thelocal_462458 2021/07/12 20:40
    You have to carry some proof of vaccination (ideally paper-based) and hope it will be accepted (unless it's an EU certificate - then it's fine).

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