French President Emmanuel Macron gave a televised address on Monday night as the Delta variant of Covid-19 surges in the country. He announced further measures to slow the spread of the more infectious variant and outlined plans to make vaccination compulsory for health workers.
French President Emmanuel Macron began his address by speaking about a surge in infections of the Covid-19 Delta variant in mainland France and its overseas territories, and urged French citizens to get vaccinated.
"If we do not act today, the number of cases will continue to increase," he said.
Macron explained that the government was striving to achieve a 100 percent vaccination rate across the country.
Vaccination will become mandatory for all health workers. Macron urged them to be inoculated by September 15, after which they could face potential sanctions or fines. Vaccination is a "matter of individual responsibility [...] but also a matter of our freedom", the president added.
France's health minister Olivier Véran said that non-vaccinated health workers won't receive a salary nor be allowed to work after September 15.
He announced that a vaccination campaign for high school, secondary school and primary school students will begin when school starts again in September.
Among other measures, a curfew will be reinstated in the French territories of Martinique and Reunion Island.
PCR tests will no longer be free of charge from the autumn, unless they are obtained with a prescription, Macron said. It is hoped the measure will drive up vaccination rates by encouraging people to get the vaccine rather than just repeated Covid-19 tests.
"This summer will be a summer of economic recovery," he stated, adding that the 'health passport' – a QR code or certificate proving that the holder has a negative Covid-19 test, is fully vaccinated or recently recovered from Covid-19 – will be required throughout different establishments in France from August, including bars, restaurants, cafés and shopping centres.
Soon after the president's address, France's online health portal Doctolib.fr crashed because of too many people trying to book vaccination appointments.
France reported 1,260 new coronavirus cases on Monday July 12.
The rate of vaccination has slowed in the country: France has gone from an average of more than 400,000 injections a day at the end of May to about 165,000 injections per day currently. Around 40 percent of the population has received two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, while 53.1 percent has received one dose.
While France and other European countries are tightening restrictions to curb a further rise in cases, the United Kingdom is pressing ahead with plans for 'Freedom Day' on July 19, when most pandemic-related restrictions will be lifted.