PARIS—Only people who are vaccinated or recently tested negative for Covid-19 will be allowed in bars, restaurants and malls in France starting from August, President
said Monday, as the spread of the virus increases across the country.
The new restrictions will also apply in trains, domestic flights, theaters, amusement parks, concert halls, hospitals and nursing homes. Authorities will reinforce border controls this week and impose quarantines on travelers who aren’t vaccinated and have arrived from countries at risk, he added.
The measures could have a negative impact on tourism in France, one of the world’s top tourist destinations, just as the number of foreign visitors has started to pick up.
The rapid spread of the highly contagious Delta variant is forcing authorities across Europe to reimpose health measures to stop it. The Netherlands on Friday announced restrictions on nightclubs and music festivals in response to a pickup in cases, after relaxing them only weeks earlier. In France, a national lockdown and a massive vaccination campaign helped slow the spread of the virus this spring.
But the Delta variant is now threatening to undo the recent progress in beating back the virus. After falling from more than 42,000 in mid-April to less than 2,000 in late June, the seven-day average of new daily cases has started to increase again in recent days, standing at nearly 4,000 on Sunday.
“If we do not act today, the number of cases will continue to increase strongly and will inevitably lead to an increase in hospitalizations as soon as the month of August,” Mr. Macron said in a national televised address on Monday.
The number of new hospitalizations and the daily death toll remain very low in France. But the slowdown in the pace of vaccinations in recent weeks has raised concerns among doctors that vaccines won’t prevent a new wave of infections this summer.
More than 53% of France’s total population has received at least one shot of the vaccine and about 41% of French people are fully vaccinated, according to the French Health Ministry. Still, the number of daily first injections of the vaccine has steadily declined in recent weeks as a share of the population, including health workers, remain reluctant to get vaccinated.
Mr. Macron said Monday that the vaccine would become mandatory for health workers and other staff in hospitals and nursing homes on Sept. 15. Less than half of health workers in France are vaccinated, according to health authorities.
Starting this fall, people will also need to pay for Covid-19 tests unless they carry a medical prescription, while vaccination will remain free of cost.
Vaccination could become mandatory for the entire population at some point, Mr. Macron said. “When science offers us the means to protect ourselves, we must use them,” he said.
Write to Noemie Bisserbe at email@example.com
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