French President Emmanuel Macron told CBS News that France would begin lifting restrictions towards international travel with non-European nations starting next month.
“We will progressively lift the restrictions at the beginning of May, which means that we will organize in the summertime with our professionals in France for French European citizens, but as well for American citizens,” Macron said in an interview with “Face the Nation” that aired April 18th. “So we are working hard to propose a very concrete solution, especially for U.S. citizens who are vaccinated, so with a special pass, I would say.”
France, with a COVID-related death toll of over 100,000 and more than 5.3 million cases so far, is in the midst of its third national lockdown due to another wave of the virus. In a televised national address in late March, Macron said the latest surge was due to the new, more contagious variants of the virus.
However, whereas the French President admitted that France, along with much of Europe, was behind on vaccines, they were quickly gaining speed. “Because of the fact that we accelerated production in Europe, we are definitely catching up and we will be in the situation to meet our targets with what we have now,” he said.
The White House and Élysée Palace are “finalizing the technical discussions” on how to reopen travel, as per Macron. “We are building a European certificate to facilitate the travels after these restrictions between the different European countries with testing and vaccination. And the idea indeed is altogether to offer that to the American citizen when they decided to vaccinate or with a PCR test being negative,” he continued. “So the idea is indeed to always control the virus, to maximize the vaccination and to progressively lift the restrictions.
So it sounds as if a vaccine passport, similar to the European vaccine certificate that would allow people to show proof of vaccination and travel the continent, would be preferable, but there would be contingencies in the form of PCR tests, if needed.
That will be interesting, and will be an ongoing issue, since we’ve seen that various countries, as well as some parts of the cruise and airline industries, have already said they’re in favor of an electronic “vaccine passport” type of technology. However the Biden administration has said more than once that the federal government won’t offer any sort of federal vaccine tracking system that would show proof of vaccination. That means these “vaccine passports” will be open to the private sector (there are close to 20 already made or nearly completed, thanks to well-known names such as IBM, IATA and CLEAR, and lesser-known names as well). However U.S. officials have stressed that any privately used system needs to be regulated to protect Americans’ privacy and civil liberties. They’re still in the midst of ironing that all out.
But meanwhile, France is going to try to open this summer.
Feature Photo: Trougnouf / Wikimedia
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary