A protester holds a sign reading "Yes to vaccine freedom, no to the Health Pass" a demonstration in France. (Image: PA/Patrick Batard)

In one of the most vaccine-hesitant countries in the world, French President Emmanuel Macron is imposing sweeping vaccination requirements, making the anti-coronavirus shots virtually unavoidable for anyone wanting to live a normal social life.

Amid a dramatic surge in cases driven by the delta variant, last week the so-called health pass (proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test) became mandatory in France to enter cultural and leisure venues such as movie theaters and museums. After approval by Parliament and pending a green light from the Constitutional Council, similar requirements are due to be extended in early August to restaurants, bars, and long-distance public transportation. To further encourage people to get vaccinated, starting in the fall, PCR tests for the coronavirus will no longer be free of charge unless prescribed by a doctor. COVID-19 vaccinations will also become mandatory for all health care staff.

It’s about “participating in this collective effort to confront the virus head-on,” said Patrick Vignal, a member of Parliament from Macron’s En Marche! party. “We will find a way out of this crisis only if we all make an effort to bring down the tensions.”