France gets tough on vaccine rule for health workers

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The French government faces a stand-off with tens of thousands of health workers and carers Wednesday over a new rule requiring them to receive a Covid-19 vaccine or face suspension without pay.

Starting Wednesday, hospital staff, ambulance drivers, retirement home workers, private doctors, fire service members and people caring for the elderly or infirm in their homes — some 2.7 million people in total — must be able to prove they have had at least one shot of a vaccine.

President Emmanuel Macron issued the ultimatum two months ago, but tens of thousands of carers remain unvaccinated.

One of France’s biggest public sector unions, the hardline CGT, has warned of a “health catastrophe” if the government suspends large numbers of health workers and bars private-sector doctors from practising.

Defiant health workers have joined opponents of a new coronavirus “health pass” required for entry to restaurants, cafes and museums at weekly protests held across France in the past two months.

On Tuesday, a few hundred people attended a union-led demonstration outside the health ministry in Paris.

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