France: Commentator criticises Macron’s vaccine passport plans
The French President approved legislation that will stop people from entering restaurants and bars without a “health pass”, showing they are vaccinated, have had a recent negative test, or have immunity from COVID-19. The move forced EU leaders across the bloc to consider implementing the same measures.
In Germany, the debate caused a bitter split in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s team.
Her chief of staff said on Sunday he fears the number of new coronavirus cases in Germany could soar to 100,000 a day in about two months unless many more people get vaccinated and those who refuse may face restrictions.
His suggestion quickly hit resistance from several senior politicians including Armin Laschet, Conservative candidate to succeed Ms Merkel as Chancellor in a September 26 election.
After more than two months of steady decline, COVID-19 cases have been rising in Europe’s biggest economy since early July, due mainly to the spread of the more infectious Delta variant.
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Ms Merkel’s chief of staff, Helge Braun, told Bild am Sonntag newspaper that cases were increasing by 60 percent per week even though nearly half the population is fully vaccinated.
“If the Delta variant were to continue to spread at this rate and we don’t counter it with a very high vaccination rate or change in behaviour, we would have an incidence of 850 (per 100,000 people) in just nine weeks,” he said.
That equates to about 100,000 new infections a day, he said, adding that would lead to many people having to quarantine and chaos in the economy.
Urging Germans to get vaccinated, Mr Braun said those who refused might have to face some restrictions.
“This could mean some things such as restaurant, cinema and stadium visits would not be possible for tested unvaccinated people because the residual risk is too high,” he said.
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Roughly 60 percent of Germany’s 83 million people have had the first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine and about 48 percent are fully vaccinated.
Ms Merkel has long said there will be no compulsory vaccination.
Mr Braun’s comment unleashed a debate with some politicians backing the idea and others, including Mr Laschet, swiftly ruling it out.
“I don’t think much of compulsory vaccinations or indirectly putting pressure on people,” Mr Laschet told ZDF television.
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Coronavirus variants names
“We have had a rule that you must be tested, vaccinated or recovered and I think that is a good principle,” he said.
The Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases said the number of cases had risen by 1,387 on Sunday to 3.76 million.
The seven-day incidence rate inched up to 13.8 per 100,000 people. Some 91,524 people have died of COVID-19 related causes in Germany.
In the week after President Macron’s July 12 announcement of the bolstered health pass, a record 3.7 million French citizens signed up for vaccination, according to the Doctolib health website.
Italy on Thursday followed in the footsteps of France, announcing that proof of vaccination or immunity would shortly be mandatory for an array of activities, including indoor dining and entering places such as gyms, pools, museums and cinemas.
“The Delta variant is even more of a threat than the other variants,” Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi told reporters, defending his decision to make the so-called Green Pass obligatory to participate in much of public life.
“The Green Pass is not arbitrary, but a necessary condition not to shut down the economy. Without vaccinations, everything will have to close again,” Draghi said.
Regional governors in Italy said there was a marked pick-up in bookings after Mr Draghi spoke late on Thursday. “I think the prime minister has achieved what he wanted to achieve,” said Giovanni Toti, head of the northwestern Liguria region.