Vaccination bookings are surging in France after President Emmanuel Macron moved to mandate the COVID-19 shots for health workers and said people who want to go to restaurants and shopping centers will need to show proof of vaccination or a negative test.
Mr. Macron said a “health pass” will also be required at the theater, festivals and cinemas. The prospect of getting tested before every night out appeared to be a real catalyst.
Doctolib, a popular French website for vaccine scheduling, reported 1.3 million bookings after Mr. Macron announced the restrictions late Monday.
Mr. Macron said he is cracking down due to fears around the fast-moving delta variant. He said it makes sense to impose COVID-19 restrictions on the unvaccinated instead of everyone.
“You will have understood that vaccination is not obligatory straight away, but we are going to extend the health pass to its maximum to encourage as many of you as possible to get yourselves vaccinated,” Mr. Macron said in a Monday night address as translated by France 24.
Mr. Macron is pursuing a law that would require health workers to be vaccinated by mid-September. France will also begin charging for virus diagnostics that used to be free, hoping it will spur vaccination in lieu of testing.
About 36% of the French population is fully vaccinated. Mr. Macron is pushing to get two-thirds of the population protected by the end of August.
Yet vaccine skepticism is particularly entrenched in France and the campaign showed signs of slowing of late, prompting new measures.
The approach differs from the strategy in the U.S., where the Biden administration has avoided talks of national mandates and is relying on trusted community voices to persuade more people to get vaccinated.
The White House says it won’t get in the way of businesses, schools or local officials who decide to mandate the shots, however, amounting to tacit approval.
A prominent Texas hospital mandated the vaccines, sparking a legal fight, while some GOP governors have banned the type of “vaccine passports” being proposed by Mr. Macron because they feel it is wrong to treat the vaccinated and unvaccinated differently within society.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, on a visit to a health clinic Tuesday, also said she would not follow France‘s example.
“We do not intend to go down this road,” Mrs. Merkel, who visits Washington later this week, told reporters. “There will be no compulsory vaccination.”