Emmanuel Macron, the President of France, using vulgar language, said he would make life miserable for people who do not want to be vaccinated at a televised press conference in which he announced new measures to mitigate the pandemic.
Macron was responding to a nurse during a question-and-answer session with readers of Le Parisien newspaper. When asked how the government will deal with unvaccinated people, the president replied, “By pissing them off, and I’m sorry to say so, even more. In general, I am opposed to annoying the French. I complain all the time about administrative bureaucracy. But when it comes to the unvaccinated, I’m very keen that they get upset. So we’re going to do it, in the end. That’s our strategy.”
Last year, amid the pandemic, Macron was one of the first leaders to impose the health pass across the country.
At the time, people could show a negative test with less than 72 hours or proof of having received the vaccine to enter bars, cafes, cinemas, and theaters.
However, as of Jan. 15, the new strategy mentioned by Macron is that no unvaccinated person will be allowed to enter public or leisure places without the vaccine, i.e., the health pass will no longer include the negative test as a condition.
According to Daily Mail, the French president said his goal is to irritate the unvaccinated into submission rather than round them up and persecute them.
“I’m not going to send (the unvaccinated) to jail. I’m not going to vaccinate by force. So we have to tell them that, from Jan. 15, they can no longer go to the restaurant, they can’t have a drink, they can’t have a coffee, go to the theater, to the cinema,” Macron said.
The new legislation will be voted on during the second half of January. While parliamentarians oppose the health pass, Macron’s party has the majority, so the measure is expected to come into force on Jan. 15.
According to the BBC, Republican candidate Valérie Pécresse was outraged that the president treated the unvaccinated as if they were not citizens. “We must accept them as they are, manage them, unite them and not insult them,” she said.
Her party colleague, Bruno Retailleau, said bluntly, “Emmanuel Macron says he has learned to love the French, but he seems to be particularly fond of despising them.”
Presidential candidate Marine Le Pen tweeted, “A president shouldn’t say that. … Emmanuel Macron is unworthy of his office.”
The health passes imposed in Austria, Germany, and France, have triggered mass protests and divided those who support the measure as something to be done “collectively” by force and those who say the compulsory nature violates their freedom and question the actual effectiveness of the vaccines.
In just four months, France will elect a new president, and although Macron has not announced his re-election, media reports say he is the favorite and has said he “would like” to run again.