Macron ties French vaccine passports to booster shots

PARIS — Emmanuel Macron announced new vaccination requirements Tuesday as coronavirus cases start to rise across France again, including tying so-called vaccine passports for entering certain spaces to booster shots for those aged 65 and older.

Warning that a fifth wave of COVID-19 has already begun, the French president said in a televised address that starting December 15, the vaccine passports of those aged 65 and older will no longer be valid if they have not had a booster shot: Currently this is the only age group able to get an additional jab, but Macron also announced that those aged between 50 to 64 years old should be able to get one “at the start of December.”

“If you have been vaccinated more than six months ago, I encourage you to book an appointment now,” Macron said in the speech, in which he also laid out plans for the remaining five months of his mandate.

France launched a booster shot campaign in September for people aged above 65. So far, 3.3 million people have received the extra vaccine, out of the 7.7 million eligible. The number of appointments for booster shots has surged since it was announced that Macron would address the nation, however.

The vaccine passport, aka green pass, is required to enter places such as restaurants, cafés, gyms, cinemas and theaters as well as large gatherings such as concerts and sporting events.

Looking ahead

In the wide-ranging address, Macron also boasted of France’s quick economic recovery, highlighting government efforts to support businesses and committing to pushing through structural reforms such as more stringent rules for unemployment benefits.

But Macron said overhauling France’s pension system — as he had planned to do before the pandemic struck — would not be possible before the end of his current term.

“The conditions are not there to restart that project today,” he said, adding that this would be more likely after the presidential election next April. Macron has not yet officially announced a run for reelection but is expected to do so in the coming months.

“As soon as 2022, clear decisions will have to be taken. They will be part of a democratic debate,” he said of pension reforms.

Alluding to the ongoing COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Macron stressed the need for France to reinforce its energy independence and confirmed speculation that the government plans to build new third-generation nuclear reactors.

“For the first time in decades, we are going to restart the construction of nuclear reactors,” he said, stopping short of giving an exact number, adding that this will “guarantee France’s energy independence … and reach our carbon neutrality goals.”

Macron also promised to “continue to develop renewable energies.”

The French leader offered a glimpse of what his government is planning when it takes over the rotating Council of the EU presidency on January 1, which Macron said will come as the world experiences “clashes between great powers” and “destabilization” in many areas. He’s expected to give a press conference on December 1 with more details of France’s Council of the EU plans.

Macron called for the 27 EU members to move closer together “to better protect our external borders, to better regulate digital giants, to build a credible strategy to reduce our CO2 emissions.”

He also defended the EU’s role during the pandemic: “Without the EU, we would not have so quickly obtained the vaccine. Our partners are not foreigners. Our neighbors were confronted with the same waves [of coronavirus] that we know.”

This article has been updated with more details of Emmanuel Macron’s address.



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