French President Emmanuel Macron said yesterday he wanted to 'p*** off' the unvaccinated by introducing fresh legislation to ban them from public venues.
The cutting remark prompted howls of condemnation from opposition rivals less than 4 months before the next presidential election.
'The unvaccinated, I really want to p*** them off. And so, we're going to continue doing so, until the end. That's the strategy,' Macron told Le Parisien newspaper in an interview published late on Tuesday.
CNN: French President Emmanuel Macron said he “really wants to piss off” the unvaccinated, in an exclusive interview with Le Parisien newspaper on Tuesday. 1/3— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) January 4, 2022
France last year put in place a health pass that prevents people without a PCR test or proof of vaccination from entering restaurants, cafes and other venues.
The government wants to turn it into a vaccine passport that means only the vaccinated can have a health pass.
The legislation will remove the option of showing a negative test, effectively barring unvaccinated people from hospitality venues or trains.
The plans have faced fierce resistance from anti-vaccination campaigners and far-right and far-left groups, but is backed by the government which has a majority in parliament.
In a particularly snarky interview, the French president said he aims to irritate the unvaccinated into submission, rather than round them up and prosecute them.
'I won't send (the unvaccinated) to prison, I won't vaccinate by force. So we need to tell them, from Jan. 15, you won't be able to go to the restaurant anymore, you won't be able to down one, won't be able to have a coffee, go to the theatre, the cinema...'
Macron's use of a very informal French phrase, which can be translated as 'to p*** them off', prompted immediate criticism by rivals on social media.
'A president shouldn't say that,' far right leader Marine Le Pen said on Twitter. 'Emmanuel Macron is unworthy of his office.'
Until now France has enforced a COVID-19 health pass, which means in order to get into restaurants, cafes or cinemas or board trains, people need to either show a fresh negative test, or proof of vaccination.
But the new legislation to effectively ban the unvaccinated from many public venues is set to be ushered in on January 15.
French President Emmanuel Macron just called France's 5 million unvaccinated citizens "non-citizens" and stated "I really want to piss them off. And so we will continue to do so to the bitter end. That's the strategy."— Dr. David Samadi (@drdavidsamadi) January 5, 2022
Governments are getting bolder every day with this rhetoric.
French government officials yesterday vowed to enact the law as planned by mid-January despite the legislation hitting a procedural hitch in parliament overnight.
'January 15 remains our goal,' for the law coming into force, European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune told LCI television.
In the detailed interview, Macron's first in the new year, the president also said he had a good mind to run for re-election in April, but did not explicitly announce his intention to run.
'I would like to do it,' Macron said.
As the clear favourite in the polls, Macron has not yet officially said he was running, although his lieutenants are already preparing a campaign.
Macron also announced yesterday that France would not see fresh Covid restrictions amid a surge of new infections ahead of a government meeting today.
France registered around 270,00 new daily cases earlier on Tuesday, a new record.
The French president has been criticised in the past for off-the-cuff remarks which many French people said came across as arrogant, cutting or scornful.
He has later expressed contrition on several occasions.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.