PARIS (AP) – France’s government is forging ahead with efforts to increase pressure on unvaccinated people to get coronavirus jabs, as the Omicron variant fuels a record surge in infections.
At a Parliamentary hearing, the Health Minister defended a government plan to allow only the fully vaccinated to enjoy continued access to places such as restaurants, cinemas, theatres, museums, and sports arenas.
The speeded-up introduction of the so-called “vaccine pass” forms part of a government strategy to use vaccinations, rather than new lockdowns, to try to soften the impact of the fast-spreading Omicron variant on already overburdened hospitals.
France reported nearly 180,000 new cases of COVID-19 infection on Tuesday, a record, and is bracing for that number to keep increasing, with forecasts warning of more than 250,000 daily infections likely by January. France has vaccinated more than 75 per cent of its population but more than four million adults remain unvaccinated.
The government wants the vaccine pass to be in place by mid-January. Its introduction will mean that unvaccinated people will no longer be able to use negative test results to access places where the pass is required.