France travel ban: BBC reporter discusses Macron’s decision
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On Friday, the French President said he stood by his earlier comments saying he wanted to “p*** off” the five million French people who are still not vaccinated against COVID-19, adding it was his responsibility to sound the alarm given the Omicron threat.
He added it was the authorities’ obligation to place restrictions against those who are not vaccinated, to protect the more than 90 percent of French citizens who are vaccinated.
France is reporting more than 200,000 daily new COVID-19 cases on average, an all-time record, due to the high contagiousness of the new Omicron coronavirus variant.
Mr Macron’s comments were however met with mass protests on Saturday, organised and backed by Les Patriotes leader Florian Philippot.
Posting pictures of crowds in the French capital, Mr Philippot wrote: “It’s already packed and people are pouring in from everywhere.
“The January 8th ‘thousands in the street’ demonstration already exceeds the demonstration of July 17th! And by far!
“Macron and his filthy words will be sent back to the dustbins of history!
“Long live Liberty, free France!”
The current COVID-19 wave engulfing France could reach its peak in around 10 days time, said Professor Alain Fischer, an official responsible for France’s COVID vaccine strategy.
“I think we are coming to the peak of this new wave,” Fischer told LCI TV, adding that this peak could come “primarily towards the beginning of the second fortnight of January, so if we work it out this would be in around 10 days time.”
France reported 261,481 new coronavirus infections on Thursday, less than the record of more than 332,000 set on Wednesday, but the seven-day moving average of new cases rose above 200,000 for the first time since the start of the health crisis.
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The French health ministry also reported 204 new deaths, taking the total COVID-19 death tally to over 125,000.
Macron is banking that enough people will take up COVID vaccine booster shots to mitigate the effects of the virus, and thereby allow Macron to avoid enforcing major new restrictions to tackle the pandemic.
France’s parliament on Thursday approved Macron’s plans for a vaccine pass to help curb the spread of the Omicron variant after a tumultuous debate whipped up by Macron’s comments.
Macron told Le Parisien newspaper earlier this week that he wanted to make the lives of those refusing the COVID-19 vaccine so complicated by squeezing them out of public places that they would end up getting jabbed.
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Macron’s coarse language barely three months before a presidential election was widely seen as a politically calculated, tapping into a intensifying public frustration against the unvaccinated.
More than 90 percent of over-12s have received at least two doses, government data shows.
Health Minister Olivier Veran said a record number of people since October 1 received a first shot on Wednesday after Macron’s comments were published.
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