French President Emmanual Macron is to address the nation at 8 pm on Monday, amid speculation that new rules will be introduced in France making proof of vaccination necessary to access bars and places of leisure.
The president’s words come amid fears of a possible 4th wave of Covid-19 caused by the more contagious Delta variant of virus.
Macron will exhort those people still resisting vaccination to take the step – to protect both themselves and others.
A vaccinated person is 12 less likely to transmit Covid-19 than someone who has had no vaccination.
It’s thought likely that Macron will announce an extension of the use of the vaccination pass – so far only used for travel.
He could announce that it will soon be necessary to access many areas of ordinary life, such as bars, restaurants and cinemas.
In recent days Macron and ministers have been examining possible options to try to slow the spread of the new variant.
Vaccination compulsory for health, care workers?
The Scientific Council that advises the president is pressing for the vaccination to be made obligatory for certain categories such as health and care workers, though it’s unclear yet whether Macron will announce the introduction of such a law.
Europe Minister Clément Beaune, speaking after a ministers meeting on Monday, described such a possibility as “very likely and legitimate”.
Vaccination rates in these sectors appear to have reached a plateau, with only 41.9% of hospital workers and 49.1% of those working in the care system, so far completely vaccinated.
Pierre Martinez, who heads one of the main trade unions in France, the CGT, opposes compulsory vaccination for health or care staff. He says such a rule is a form of “guilt-tripping” such workers.
But others, including former EU commissioner and undeclared French presidential hopeful Michel Barnier, favour making the vaccination compulsory not just for certain categories of worker but for everyone in France.
Philippe Amouyel, professor of Public Health and Lille university hospital pointed out in Le Figaro newspaper on Monday that only 50% of the clinically obese have so far been fully vaccinated.
He insisted the government should concentrate on a drive to vaccinate such specific high-risk populations as well as young people, who spread the virus more than other groups, though they themselves are at less risk of serious illness if infected
Meanwhile epidemiologist Dominique Costagliola told French TV channel BFMTV that the country would only emerge from the pandemic only if 90% of the population become fully vaccinated – yet so far the figure is 40%.
Re introduce tougher social distancing measures?
Some scientists are calling on the government, as well as pushing vaccinations, to reverse the recent relaxation of some social distancing measures.
They want capacity limits re imposed on restaurants and other indoor spaces visited by the public.
However, that will be unpopular with many businesspeople. Restaurants, museums cinemas and places of leisure have only recently re opened and the economy appeared to be on the rebound but could face further setbacks if restrictions are re imposed to combat another wave of Covid.
On Sunday 4,256 new cases of Covid were recorded – up from 2549 last week.
As well as talking about the Covid-19 situation, Macron is also likely to use his address to outline his remaining plans as president – with only around 10 months until the next presidential election due in May 2022.