French President Emmanuel Macron took some serious steps Monday to raise the number of people vaccinated in France, including mandating health passes for anyone hoping to enter a restaurant, theater, or other public venue.
During a national television address on Monday, Macron said anyone over the age of 12 who wants to enter a restaurant, shopping mall, or get on a plane or train will need the health pass.
“The country is facing a strong resumption of the epidemic touching all our territory,” Macron said. “The equation is simple. The more we vaccinate, the less space we leave this virus to circulate.”
To get a pass, people must have proof they are fully vaccinated, recently recovered from the virus, or have a current negative test.
Getting that test, however, will be a costly proposition. COVID tests have been given at no charge throughout the pandemic in France, but starting next week residents will have to pay for them. Macron and health officials hope this encourages people to get vaccinated instead.
“If we do not act today, the number of cases will continue to increase,” he said.
According to the BBC, a panel of French scientists warned last week that a fourth wave is coming soon, and warned that a 95 percent vaccination rate may be necessary to control the spread.
Currently, a little over half the adult population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, and about 40 percent are fully vaccinated.
Following his speech, the nation’s website used to book vaccination appointments crashed as many people tried to secure appointments.
Macron also mandated that every health care worker in the country be vaccinated by September 15. If they haven’t done so by that date, they will not be allowed to work or receive a paycheck. The mandate applies to doctors, nurses, office and hospital staff, and volunteers.
“I am aware of what I am asking of you, and know that you are ready for this commitment,” Macron said. “This is part, in a way, of your sense of duty.”
France has recorded nearly 6 million COVID cases since the pandemic began, with more than 111,000 deaths. While the average daily numbers had been dropping throughout the spring, they have been on the rise again over the past two weeks.
Macron said the health pass and other steps outlined Monday are meant to save France from more pain. His ultimate goal is for 100 percent of the population to be vaccinated.
“This summer will be the summer of economic recovery,” he maintained.