Washington – France is finalizing its plan to lift restrictions for Americans traveling to the country who have received their COVID-19 vaccines, French President Emmanuel Macron has said, as the nation grapples with a further increase in coronavirus cases.
“We will gradually lift the restrictions from the beginning of May, which means that we will organize in the summer with our professionals in France for French European citizens, but also for American citizens,” Macron said in an interview with “Face the Nation” aired Sunday. “So we’re working hard to come up with a very real solution, especially for US citizens who are vaccinated, so with a special pass, I would say.”
France is currently in its third national lockdown as it battles another wave of coronavirus infections, with schools closed until the end of April, limited travel and gatherings banned. In a nationally televised speech late last month, Macron attributed the latest surge to new coronavirus variants, which are more contagious and have created “an epidemic within an epidemic.”
The death toll in France from the coronavirus has exceeded 100,000, and there have been more than 5.3 million confirmed cases, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Macron said on Sunday that French ministers were “finalizing technical talks” on easing restrictions, and officials were developing a certificate to facilitate travel between European countries with tests and vaccinations.
“The idea is indeed to offer this to the American citizen when he decides to be vaccinated or with a negative PCR test,” he said. “The idea is therefore to always control the virus, to maximize vaccination and gradually lift restrictions.”
The most recent increase in coronavirus cases in France comes as vaccinations in the country are overdue. But Macron said Europe was catching up, with production ramping up, positioning France to meet its vaccine targets. Still, some members of the European Union are considering securing their own supplies of Russian Sputnik vaccine, which has yet to be approved by the European Medicines Agency.
When asked if he would buy the Russian vaccine, Macron noted that European health authorities had not yet cleared it, so the vaccine could not be used on French soil.
“At this stage, the Russian vaccine is not recognized by our authorities,” he said. “So I do not think that the Russian vaccine is today a solution to an acceleration because it will take time to have the authorization of the European agency and it will take time to produce such a vaccine on our continent”.
In addition to making it easier for French citizens to get vaccinated, Macron said it’s not enough to just focus on rich countries.
“I think between now and June we need to send a maximum dose of vaccine, which is a tiny part of what we get for ourselves, to immunize health system workers in Africa,” he said. . “It’s very limited, but these guys are working hard to preserve the health care system and that’s something we can do. And it’s the same in Latin America. After the summer, we will speed up these deliveries. We will accelerate this solidarity. And on top of that, what we need to provide is also funding for those savings. “