The French government on Monday enacted a new law that will block unvaccinated individuals from entering most public venues such as restaurants, bars, tourist sites, and sports venues.
The measure, which applies to everyone aged 16 and above who is not 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, movie theater, 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 concern raised by French health officials that the European nation is facing a rise in COVID-19 cases, with France registering Europe’s highest-ever daily CCP virus infection numbers.
According to data by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, France has a higher inoculation number than the European average, with nearly 76 percent of its population being fully vaccinated—compared to a 69.7 percent average in regions in the European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA).
The update to the country’s vaccine pass is part of President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to make life so difficult for unvaccinated individuals that they will eventually be forced to get jabbed.
Critics have questioned Macron’s move and doubt whether the vaccine pass will make much difference in a country where 94 percent of adults have already had at least one vaccine dose.
Macron has recently sparked criticism from the public and political opponents after exposing his COVID-19 vaccination plan, saying his strategy is to “piss off” those who refuse to get the shot and make their life more difficult so they will eventually end up getting jabbed.
“I’m not for pissing off the French … Now the unvaccinated, I really want to piss them off. And so, we’re going to keep doing it, until the end. This is the strategy,” Macron said during an interview with Le Parisien earlier this month.
The French president said several days later 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 earlier comments,” Macron said, stressing that it was the authorities’ obligation to place restrictions against those who are not vaccinated, as to protect French citizens who are vaccinated.
To be considered “fully vaccinated” under the vaccine 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, opened up access to booster shots to 12- to 17-year-olds on Monday.
Omicron is less likely to cause severe illness than the previous Delta variant, according to studies. 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 had previously been infected by prior versions of COVID-19, studies say.
The French government has imposed 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 consecutive months, the country has been hard struck by massive demonstrations against the government’s CCP virus restrictions, including this weekend, when tens of thousands of people across the nation protested the new policy, saying the reinforced measures will impinge upon daily freedoms.
Since Dec. 1, 2021, when the “vaccine pass” was announced, protesters have regularly hit the streets to rally against the mandate.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.