France, Greece and Italy all mandate COVID-19 vaccine for healthcare workers
PARIS – French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday ordered all French health workers to be vaccinated against viruses by September 15, and urged all his compatriots to get vaccinated as soon as possible to combat re-emerging infections that are making the economic one Threaten the country’s recovery.
In a televised address, Macron also requested special COVID-19 passports for anyone going to a restaurant, mall, hospital, or getting on a train or plane. To get a passport, people will need to show that they are fully vaccinated, or have recently recovered from the virus, or have had a new negative virus test.
The Delta variant is driving France’s viral infections back up, just as the country opened the summer vacation season after a long-awaited reopening. Around 40% of the French population are fully vaccinated.
“Get vaccinated!” was the general message from the President. He even tweeted a GIF of himself repeating the phrase.
FILE – A health worker vaccinates a man with a dose of the vaccine against the Covid-19 coronavirus on June 25, 2021 in Lille, France.
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“The country is facing a strong resumption of the epidemic that affects our entire territory,” said Macron, referring to the Eiffel Tower. He warned of a new wave of potential hospital admissions in August, saying, “The equation is simple. The more we vaccinate, the less room we leave for this virus to circulate. “
But he stopped at new lockdown measures and said, “We have to learn to live with the virus.”
Macron said the government will again declare a state of medical emergency starting Tuesday, which will give authorities more freedom to impose virus restrictions.
Most European governments have shied away from making vaccinations mandatory. But after tens of thousands of people died with the virus in French nursing homes, Macron said vaccination was essential for any worker in a health facility or nursing home, as well as any worker or volunteer caring for the elderly or the sick at home. Those who are not vaccinated by September 15 face potential sanctions or fines, he said.
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Greece announced Monday that health workers would be suspended if they refuse to get vaccinated. Italy has made coronavirus vaccination compulsory for healthcare workers and pharmacists, and those who choose not to be laid off from their jobs or cut their wages.
In Denmark, restaurants and public events require a digital passport showing that you are fully vaccinated or that you recently had a negative test. Some states are asking for the same for restaurants, although the proposals to make vaccinations mandatory caused widespread unease.
In France, vaccines are widely used for anyone aged 12 and over. But interest has decreased in recent weeks because of the hesitant vaccination, the feeling that the virus is no longer a threat, and because some people have postponed their vaccinations until after their summer vacation. Demand started picking up again over the weekend as people prepared for Macron’s announcement.
Macron also said on Monday that France would start charging money for some virus tests, which were previously free for anyone on French territory.
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Meanwhile, French restaurants and bars are flourishing again, the Tour de France cycling race draws crowded crowds across the country and Hollywood stars pose arm in arm and without masks on the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival. Cheek kisses are making a comeback.
After staying closed for nine months since the pandemic began, Parisian restaurant owners expressed concern over the challenges of enforcing the new requirements.
“It used to be our job to make sure that our guests had a great time with us. Now we spend our time blaming them. We weren’t trained for that, ”said the manager of the Parisian restaurant Bancs Public. Louis le Mahieu. He said he will heed any new health regulations but warned that the new measures would likely add new costs and lower returns.
For Gauthier Max, whose Mama Kin bar was closed for nine days for violating COVID-19 measures, restaurants and bars are no longer places of leisure, but rather spaces of constraints and restrictions.
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“We practically became cops,” he told the Associated Press.
France’s viral infections increased again two weeks ago. The number of people in French hospitals and intensive care units has been falling for weeks, but doctors predict it will also rise as the surge in Delta variant infections hits vulnerable populations, as it did in the UK and Spain.
Meanwhile, Macron also met with auto industry officials on Monday as he tried to combine his virus warnings with a message of hope for one of the world’s largest economies. New infections threaten France’s vital tourism industry and Macron’s ambitious economic recovery plan – just nine months before the next presidential election, in which he is expected to run.
Constantin Gouvy in Paris, Derek Gatopoulos in Athens, Nicole Winfield in Rome, Frank Jordans in Berlin and Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark contributed to this report.