French President Emmanual Macron has come under fire for saying that he wanted to annoy France’s unvaccinated, to make their life difficult. The comments came in an interview with France’s Le Parisien newspaper.
Mr Macron’s comments were made on the day that the bill which would bar the unvaccinated from much of public life was being debated in parliament. The Covid-19 bill was delayed after opposition ganged up on the government. The government had hoped to pass the bill this week but it had angered vaccine opponents with several members of parliament saying they had received death threats.
In the interview with Le Parisien on Tuesday he said: “I really want to hassle them, and we will continue to do this – to the end.” He however did say that while he would not “vaccinate by force”, he hoped to encourage people to get jabbed by “limiting as much as possible their access to activities in social life”.
He said: “I won’t send [unvaccinated people] to prison. So we need to tell them, from January 15, you will no longer be able to go to the restaurant. You will no longer be able to go for a coffee, you will no longer be able to go to the theatre. You will no longer be able to go to the cinema.”
The strong words have been met with strong opposition with Bruno Retailleau, Senate leader of the right-wing Republicans, being quoted by AFP as having said: “No health emergency justifies such words. Emmanuel Macron says he has learned to love the French, but it seems he especially likes to despise them.”
Far-right leader Marine le Pen tweeted: “A president shouldn’t say that… Emmanuel Macron is unworthy of his office.”
Leftist politician Jean-Luc Melenchon described the remarks as an “astonishing confession,” adding “It is clear, the vaccination pass is a collective punishment against individual freedom.”
France has vaccinated more than 90% of the population, one of the highest percentages in Europe, and many public venues have for some time asked for proof of vaccination or a negative test. The government wish to move the latter to combat the highly contagious Omicron and Delta variants.
France recorded its highest number of new cases on Tuesday at 271,686.
Mr Macron who yesterday said that he wants to annoy the unvaccinated, is yet to formally declare whether he will run for a second term in April’s presidential elections. He has said that he will clarify his decision “once the health situation allows it”.
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