France moves to restrict restaurants to those vaccinated or testing negative for COVID-19

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By Euronews
Pierre, 69, enjoys a meal in a restaurant during the nationwide reopening of restaurants, in Lille, northern France, Wednesday, June 9
Pierre, 69, enjoys a meal in a restaurant during the nationwide reopening of restaurants, in Lille, northern France, Wednesday, June 9   -  Copyright  Credit: AP

France has moved to restrict restaurants, cafes and shopping centres to those that have been vaccinated or who have recently tested negative for COVID-19.

It was part of a package of measures announced on Monday evening to fight a new wave of COVID infections in the country.

President Emmanuel Macron said maximising COVID vaccinations was key in preventing another lockdown further down the line.

“The country is facing a strong resumption of the epidemic touching all our territory,” he said during a televised address against the backdrop of the Eiffel Tower.

Warning of a new wave of potential hospitalisations in August, he said, “The equation is simple. The more we vaccinate, the less space we leave this virus to circulate.”

Some 40 percent of the French population have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 so far, a number than lags behind some of France's nearest neighbours.

The country has seen some vaccine hesitancy in recent weeks, amid a feeling that the virus was perhaps no longer a threat, and with people putting off their jabs until after taking holiday.

Health pass extended

Macron announced he will extend France's health pass - which is given to those fully vaccinated against COVID-19 - to restaurants, cafes, transport and shopping centres.

It will already be required at cultural venues hosting more than 50 people from later on this month.

Among other measures, he also said all workers in health car facilities or nursing homes, and all those that care for elderly or sick at home, must get vaccinated.

By September 15, those that haven't done so could face potential sanctions or fines, the president said.

He also announced booster jabs will be rolled out in September for those that were vaccinated earlier in 2021.

The announcement comes as the World Health Organization (WHO) slammed rich countries for their "greed" in focusing on booster shots for those already immunised, rather than sharing extra vaccine doses with poorer countries that have yet to really begin their vaccine campaigns in earnest.

France’s virus infections started rising again two weeks ago.

The number of people in French hospitals and intensive care units has been declining for weeks, but doctors predict it too will rise when the increase in delta variant infections hits vulnerable populations, as it has in Britain and Spain.

How does France compare with the rest of Europe?