Despair in France as country enters fourth Covid wave

As new cases rise to an average of 7,000 per day, a new law to put pressure on the unvaccinated will be debated

France is entering a fourth wave of Covid-19, driven by the highly contagious Delta variant attacking unvaccinated people.

A law intended to put pressure on people to get vaccinated was drafted on Monday and will be debated on Tuesday. It is expected to be raced into law by the end of the week.

“We have entered the fourth wave of the epidemic,” government spokesman Gabriel Attal said. “We are observing a faster wave with a steeper curve than before. It can go up very fast and very high.”

As new cases rise to an average of 7,000 a day, nine out of 10 are linked to the Delta mutation, Health Minister Olivier Veran said.

“It is more contagious. We knew it but we see it every day. If we had not had the vaccine, with the Delta variant, we would not be talking about a wave [but] a tsunami,” he said.

The UK has singled out France for special restrictions because of concerns over a different mutation — the Beta variant.

France is the only country on Britain’s amber list where vaccinated UK travellers cannot visit without facing quarantine on their return.

More than 100,000 people marched across France on Saturday to protest against President Emmanuel Macron's plans for extending the health pass.

The bill being raced through parliament significantly extends the health pass system that requires people to produce evidence of vaccination, or that they have recently recovered from the virus or had a negative test, when they visit public places such as restaurants, bars or shopping centres.

The health pass will be needed for entry into a wide array of venues, as well as for long-distance train travel and flights.

The new law will also require people who test positive to self-isolate for 10 days, and vaccination will become mandatory for health workers in August.

Businesses will face fines starting at €4,500 ($5,307) for not checking health passes.

A day has not been set for when France hopes to starting enforcing the law, but Mr Attal indicated there would need to be a “run-in period” of a between a week and a month.

Updated: July 20th 2021, 9:53 AM