PARIS -France does not need to follow those European countries imposing COVID-19 lockdowns on unvaccinated people, because of the success of its health pass in curbing the virus’ spread, President Emmanuel Macron said.
Europe has again become the epicentre of the pandemic, prompting some countries including Germany and Austria to reintroduce restrictions in the run-up to Christmas and causing debate over whether vaccines alone are enough to tame COVID-19.
“Those countries locking down the non-vaccinated are those which have not put in place the (health) pass. Therefore this step is not necessary in France,” Macron told La Voix du Nord newspaper in an interview published on Thursday.
In France, proof of vaccination or a recent negative test is required to go to restaurants, cafes and cinemas and to take long-distance trains, among other activities.
Europe accounted last week for more than half of the seven-day average of infections globally and about half of the latest deaths, according to a Reuters tally.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday announced curbs on public life for those not yet vaccinated in areas where hospitals are filling dangerously fast with COVID-19 patients. Austria has also imposed a lockdown for the unvaccinated.
Earlier in the day, several hundred people protested outside the Austrian Embassy in Paris against Austria’s restrictions, fearing France might be next to reimpose curbs aimed at reducing the circulation of the virus.
Macron said he was still awaiting guidance from health authorities on whether a third dose should be extended to all those eligible for the vaccine.
A booster shot is currently available for those over 65 and the frail and will be required for a valid health pass for the age group from December.
“If it’s shown that a third dose is effective and necessary for the wider public, then obviously we will incorporate it into the health pass,” he told La Voix du Nord.
(Reporting by Richard Lough; Editing by Peter Cooney)