Not all caregivers are happy with the move. In Italy, several legal proceedings are being heard this week by those who do not want to be vaccinated. In the UK, a petition against the plan to make vaccines mandatory has gathered more than 72,000 signatures.
French President Emmanuel Macron announced on Monday that health professionals, care home workers and those who work with frail and vulnerable patients in France must be vaccinated by September 15. After Macron’s announcement on LCI television, Health Minister Olivier Véran added that unvaccinated health workers will not be allowed to go to work and will not be paid after the September deadline.
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Macron also hinted at the possibility of making the injection mandatory for everyone if the epidemic worsens. “Depending on the situation, we will undoubtedly have to ask ourselves the question about the mandatory vaccination for all French people,” he said. “I have made the choice for confidence and I appeal to all our unvaccinated compatriots to get vaccinated as soon as possible,” he added.
Meanwhile, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced on Monday that vaccinations will be mandatory for nursing home staff with immediate effect. Those who refuse will be suspended from August 16, he said, adding that from September vaccinations will be mandatory for all health professionals in both the public and private sectors.
Mitsotakis said that from Friday and until the end of August, only those who have had the vaccine will be able to visit indoor commercial spaces such as entertainment centers, bars, theaters and cinemas.
“The country will not close again because of the attitude of some,” he said, adding that “it is not Greece in danger, but the unvaccinated Greeks.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday that her government had decided not to make vaccines mandatory, adding that she believed many more people wanted to get vaccinated. She said it is up to the authorities to make both information and vaccines more accessible.
She stressed that the country’s Covid restrictions would not be lifted until more people get their injections.
New restrictions across Europe
The moves by France and Greece come as both countries – and indeed most of Europe – are seeing a sharp increase in cases of the coronavirus caused by the Delta variant. The species, first identified in India earlier this year, is more transmissible and has spread around the world in recent months.
There are also concerns, based on statements from the Israeli government, that existing Covid-19 vaccines may be slightly less effective in preventing all infections caused by the Delta variant, compared to previous strains. The shots appear to be highly effective in preventing hospitalizations and deaths.
The threat of the Delta variant has in recent days prompted several European governments to reintroduce restrictions.
The Netherlands restored curbs for nightclubs and restaurants on Friday after a spike in cases. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte apologized for easing restrictions in late June, telling reporters on Monday that it had been an “error of judgment”.
Spain’s regions of Valencia and Catalonia have introduced new restrictions on social gatherings and hospitality, while Portugal has imposed a curfew in some high-risk areas and said it would require tourists to show a negative test or vaccination certificate to stay in. . hotels.
Even with most of Europe stepping on the emergency brake, the UK government remains adamant that it will drop nearly all remaining coronavirus restrictions in England next week.
Prime Minister Boris Jonson confirmed on Monday that the easing will take place despite a sharp increase in Covid cases; he admitted this would lead to “more hospitalizations and more deaths from Covid”.
He justified the move by pointing to the country’s high vaccination rate, adding that it would be better to open the economy now, with schools closed for the summer holidays and the weather good.
“If we were to postpone this fourth step now [in the reopening process] — say until September or later — then we would reopen when the weather gets colder and the virus gains a greater natural advantage and when schools are back,” he said at a news conference on Monday.
The decision to proceed comes despite sharp warnings from experts and medical professionals. The British Medical Association (BMA), the doctors’ union, called the government’s plan “irresponsible and life-threatening”.
“By lifting the remaining restrictions next week – when a significant proportion of the population is not fully vaccinated – this deadly virus will have a chance to re-tighten its grip; the number of infections is rising, the number of hospitalizations and people who are sick for a long time. -Covid, with the risk of new vaccine-resistant variants developing and unnecessarily endangering more lives,” Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of the BMA Council, said in a statement.
The UK has fully vaccinated about half of the population, with two-thirds of adults now fully vaccinated and 87% having had at least one injection.
CNN’s Sarah Dean, Vasco Cotovio, Mick Krever, Sharon Braithwaite, Rob Iddiols and Chris Liakos in London, Nadine Schmidt in Berlin and Barbara Wojazer in Paris contributed to this report.
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