Despite widespread protests, France’s parliament Monday passed a controversial law requiring special “health passes” for people that choose to dine-in at restaurants or travel domestically, in addition to mandating universal vaccinations for healthcare and other essential workers, as the country attempts to combat a surge in coronavirus infections.
All adults wishing to enter bars, gyms, restaurants or cafes, and those who travel on long-distance train and bus rides, will need to present their pass starting in August.
To obtain the pass, people must provide proof of completed vaccination, a recent negative coronavirus test, or proof of immunity through infection.
On September 30, the measure will expand to include anyone over the age of 12.
Either passes printed on paper or digital versions will be accepted.
The deadline set for all workers in the health care sector to start getting vaccinated is September 15.
If healthcare workers fail to comply with the requirement, they face a potential suspension.
An average of more than 18,000 new Covid-19 cases per day were reported in France in the last week, according to New York Times data, which represents a whopping 377% increase compared to the average from 14 days ago. The rapid spread of the Delta coronavirus variant is believed to be primarily responsible for the uptick in infections. Since the start of the pandemic, the virus has claimed the lives of more than 111,000 people in France.
The health pass bill was introduced just six days ago. Over the weekend, an estimated 160,000 people, including members of France’s yellow vest movement, gathered to protest the pending legislation. Speaking with reporters on Sunday, President Emmanuel Macron said he empathized with those individuals who were hesitant to get their shots, pledging the government would provide “patience” and “support.” However, Macron criticized those who held “irrational, sometimes cynical and manipulative” opposition to the vaccines.
“A freedom where I don’t owe anything to anyone doesn’t exist,” said Macron. “What is your liberty worth if you tell me you don’t want to get vaccinated? And tomorrow, you infect your father, your mother or myself. I am a victim of your freedom,” adding, “That is not called freedom. That is called irresponsibility, selfishness.”
What To Watch For:
The newly approved measures can be applied through Nov. 15, depending on data related to the spread of the virus throughout the country.
40 million. That’s the number of French residents (roughly 60% of the population) that have received at least one vaccine dose as of Monday morning, according to President Emmanuel Macron.