Sean Penn says getting COVID-19 vaccination should be “mandatory”

"Like turning your headlights on in the car at night"

A couple of weeks after telling film fans not to go to the cinema unless they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19, Sean Penn has reiterated his comments in a new interview, saying he thinks vaccination should be “mandatory”.

Earlier this month, the actor and filmmaker made his position clear at the premiere of his new film Flag Day, at which the audience were required to wear masks during the screening and provide proof of vaccination.

“I have to say that I do request people who are not vaccinated, don’t go to the cinemas,” Penn said. “Stay home until you are convinced of these very clearly safe vaccines.”

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A month earlier, Penn made headlines for refusing to return to the set of his upcoming film Gaslit until everyone on the production had been vaccinated. It marked one of the first instances where Hollywood leaders have been directly challenged on their COVID-19 safety protocols by an actor.

While the cast of the show and those who come in close proximity were required to be vaccinated, Penn insisted that the rule must apply to all those working on the production.

Now, speaking to CNN’s Michael Smerconish in an interview about Flag Day, the actor doubled down on his earlier remarks, saying he believes everyone should get vaccinated.

“I believe it should be mandatory, like turning your headlights on in the car at night,” he said.

Penn went on to address those who were “entrenched in a kind of radical libertarianism and an identity of politic”, accusing them of turning the issue “into something that forgets that in the United States of America, in our entire history it’s all based on being independent because we understand interdependency”.

“The entire history of successful things in this country. If we’re gonna continue with successful things — if we’re gonna take some of the great lessons that have been learned in the last year, some of the extraordinary movements, George Floyd, all of what’s happening societally — if we’re gonna take the good parts of that and move it forward, we’re gonna do it interdependently. And I think vaccination is the beginning of that, given that it’s such a threat now to business, to lifestyle, to life here and around the world.”

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Penn has been involved with COVID-19 relief for some time through his non-profit organisation Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE), which was initially set up to distribute aid to Haiti following the 2010 earthquake. The organisation has administered free COVID-19 tests in the US throughout the pandemic, an effort Penn says has now extended to Haiti as well.

Last month, Penn spoke out against the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic while appearing at at Cannes. Speaking to the press at a conference for Flag Day, the filmmaker said watching Trump’s “obscene administration” handle the crisis “felt like someone with a machine gun, gunning people down from a turret in the White House”.

The actor added that he felt there was “no effort or integrity from the government until the Trump administration was dismissed”.

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