Washington — France is finalizing plans to lift restrictions for Americans traveling to the country who have received their COVID-19 vaccines, French President Emmanuel Macron said, as the nation grapples with another surge in coronavirus cases.
"We will progressively lift the restrictions of the beginning of May, which means that we will organize in the summer time 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 Sunday. "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 is currently in its third national lockdown as it battles another wave of coronavirus infections, with schools closed through the end of April, travel limited and gatherings prohibited. In a televised national address late last month, Macron attributed the latest surge to new coronavirus variants, which are more contagious and have created "an epidemic within an epidemic."
France's death toll from the coronavirus surpassed 100,000, and there have been more than 5.3 million confirmed cases, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Macron said Sunday that France's ministers are "finalizing the technical discussions" over easing the restrictions, and officials are crafting a certificate to facilitate travel between European countries with testing and vaccinations.
"The idea indeed is altogether to offer that to the American citizen when they decide to vaccinate or with a PCR test being negative," he said. "So the idea is indeed to always control the virus, to maximize the vaccination and to progressively lift the restrictions."
The most recent surge in coronavirus cases in France come as vaccinations in the country lag. But Macron said Europe is catching up, with production accelerated, positioning France to meet its vaccine targets. Still, some members of the European Union are considering securing their own supplies of Russia's Sputnik vaccine, which hasn't been approved by the European Medicines Agency yet.
Asked whether he would buy Russia's vaccine, Macron noted European health authorities haven't allowed it yet, so the vaccine cannot be used on French soil.
"At this stage, the Russian vaccine is not recognized by our authorities," he said. "So I don't think that the Russian vaccine today is a solution to an acceleration because it will take time to have the authorization of the European agency and it will take time to produce on our continent such a vaccine."
In addition to facilitating the vaccinations of French citizens, Macron said it is "not sufficient just to be focused on the rich countries."
"I think between now and June, we have to send a maximum doses of vaccine, which is a tiny part of what we get for us, to vaccinate the workers of the healthcare system in Africa," he said. "It's very limited, but these guys are working hard to preserve the health system and this is something we can do. And same in Latin America. After summer, we will accelerate these deliveries. We will accelerate this solidarity. And on top of that, what we have to provide is financing as well for these economies."