Macron slammed by panelist for labelling Johnson a ‘clown’
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Jean-Luc Mélenchon kicked off his campaign for France’s presidential election by ripping to shreds Emmanuel Macron’s coronavirus strategy. He said: “When I look at the way this health crisis has been handled, I fear for many of us.”
Mr Mélénchon, leader of the leftist France Unbowed movement, addressed some 3,000 people in a bid to gain support for what he described as a “popular” alternative to counter the right.
In what is now his third bid for the presidency, he claimed: “We come to say no, France is not the far right.”
Slamming the country’s current Covid rules, he said: “Little by little, a society of permanent control is being established.
“Do you remember when you couldn’t be asked for your identity card in the street?
“The health pass is not a harder measure, but a more stupid one.
“Free tests must be put back in place for the holiday season at all costs.”
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French residents need to show their health pass for access to places like restaurants, swimming pools and long-distance public transport.
The pass can be obtained with proof of vaccination, a negative Covid test or evidence of recent infection and recovery from the virus.
On January 15, a seven-month expiry date will be included in the scheme, meaning adult citizens will be obliged to get a booster jab about half a year after their second shot in order to continue to use the health pass.
The same rules apply to holidaymakers. For UK travellers, the NHS COVID-19 App is accepted as proof of vaccination and boosters.
The tightening of measures has come in response to France’s fifth wave of infections, which has strained the country’s hospital system.
The spread of the new Omicron variant, of which 12 cases were confirmed in the country on Friday, has exacerbated concerns the health system could be under too much pressure once again soon.
According to Jean-Francois Delfraissy, the government’s top scientific adviser, the new variant could become the dominant strain of the virus by the end of January.
France has for now refrained from taking the route of Austria, where the government announced vaccination will be mandatory from February 1, or of Germany, where incoming chancellor Olaf Scholz said he has similar plans.
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However, many people view the requirement of the jab to enter most public as synonymous with enforced vaccination.
Mr Mélénchon argued the weight being put on vaccines is counterproductive: “The health pass is a stupid measure. It gives the illusion that when you are vaccinated, you are protected.
“However, you can contract and transmit the disease even when you are vaccinated.”
Further, he questioned pharma companies’ interest in fighting the coronavirus.
He claimed: “The three big companies that produce vaccines accumulate $1000 in profit every second.
“Why would you expect them to want us to fight the causes of pandemics? We have to do it ourselves.”
On the same day of Mr Mélénchon’s rally, another politician, Éric Zemmour, attracted attention – and controversy.
The far-right TV pundit, who is third in the polls, just after Mr Macron and Marine Le Pen, announced he had launched a new party, Reconquête – “reconquest” in French.
He said: “The reconquest is now underway.
“The reconquest of our economy, the reconquest of our security, the reconquest of our identity, the reconquest of our sovereignty, the reconquest of our country.”
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega
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