French president Emmanuel Macron said France will continue using the country’s health pass to ensure uptake of booster shots of the vaccine in a national address Tuesday evening.
Announcing the opening of third shots for those aged over 50 from the beginning of December, Macron also said that from mid-December proof of a third shot would be necessary for those aged over 65 to revalidate their health pass.
Those aged over 65 have been able to request a third dose since September 1 in France.
The health pass has been an essential tool for the French government in boosting vaccination rates, banning entry to public transport and a variety of public and private spaces for those without proof of full vaccination.
Masks will remain obligatory in schools and are currently required indoors and on public transport.
“The fifth wave has started in Europe,” Macron said, citing the WHO, adding that the UK and Germany are now recording 30,000 new Covid-19 cases daily. “We have not finished with the pandemic,” he said.
Europe’s fifth wave
Large swathes of Europe are battling to beat back surges of the Delta variant amid the relaxation of restrictions and stuttering vaccine rollouts in some countries, with the WHO warning half a million Europeans could die of Covid-19.
The continent’s Covid-19 fortunes have shifted dramatically in recent months. By the end of the summer, many countries had done away with tough restrictions after nations particularly in the west of the bloc charged ahead with vaccination programs and cases plummeted.
Now as other parts of the world reopen, Europe could again be facing a winter of renewed clampdowns. The Danish government has proposed reintroducing a digital “corona pass,” according to Reuters, and Austria this week banned unvaccinated people from restaurants and hotels. Iceland too has reintroduced masks and social-distancing rules.
In France, Macron shot down any hopes that Covid-19 health regulations might be relaxed in the near-term, “even if I know how difficult that is,” he said.
He made a “call of responsibility” to the 6 million French people who have yet to receive a single dose of the vaccine, adding that “we will have to live with the virus until the global population in its entirety is immunized.”
He said that France remained committed to “international solidarity” on vaccine provision.