France Hits Another Record for Covid Infections
(Bloomberg) -- The pandemic in France has become a live political issue as the country suffered the highest-ever single-day count of coronavirus cases in Europe.
Authorities are struggling to contain the spread of the omicron variant as new infections hit a record 332,252 and the alarming new figure comes a day after French President Emmanuel Macron took a gamble four months away from elections and said his government’s vaccination strategy was to “p--- off” people who hadn’t taken the coronavirus shot.
His political opponents pounced on his explosive comments to highlight on Macron’s perceived arrogance in the eye of voters.
France’s parliament approved Thursday new legislation that would mean only those with a full vaccination status could go out to restaurants, visit museums and attend concerts, even get on trains and take airplanes. The bill needs to be approved in the Senate before it can become law. Prime-minister Jean Castex said he expects the legislation to come into force on January 15.
While it could complicate a life out of one’s home for so-called anti-vaxxers, a quick implementation of the proposed legislation is backed by 54% of the French, according to a poll of 1,022 people by Ifop-Le Journal du Dimanche.
The survey is likely to encourage Macron’s strategy of tapping into the frustration of mainstream voters taking precautions and eager for a return to normality after two years of disruption.
Still, Macron rivals from all sides are betting on resentment against Covid-19 restrictions. His biggest challenger, Valerie Pecresse from the Republican party said “it’s not up to the president of the Republic to pick out good and bad French people.” That line of attack could become a leitmotif in coming months in what is becoming an increasingly heated campaign.
Though he hasn’t formally declared, Macron has effectively entered into full-on re-election mode ahead of April’s presidential vote and his approach to the virus risk becoming a determining factor if the pandemic persists in disrupting the economy and people’s freedom to move.
On Wednesday, an Internet poll of 855 people conducted by Elabe found that 53% of the French were shocked by the president’s remarks made to Le Parisien newspaper.
The current “supersonic” spike of infections is expected to last days, if not weeks, French government spokesperson Gabriel Attal said.
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