Back in late July, the French parliament approved a bill requiring a ‘health pass’ to access bars, restaurants, as well as travel methods including trains and planes as of the beginning of August. This was in addition to the already existing measures in place which had previously established the requirement of proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test to access swimming pools, cinemas, and museums. President Emmanuel Macron addressed the necessity for these strict measures in order to combat the spread of Covid-19, protect the vulnerable, and avoid any new lockdowns. Following these measures, social and political unrest has ensued as French citizen’s have taken to the streets to protest the ‘health pass’ requirement.
The ‘Health Pass’ in Detail
The health pass, otherwise known in France as the ‘Passe Sanitaire’, serves as proof that you have been fully vaccinated, or have received a negative Covid test. The pass is usually generated by a QR code which one then downloads onto their phone, in addition, any of these following documents serve as valid health passes:
Documentation proving you have received two doses of an EU approved vaccine.
Document indicating a negative antigen or PCR test which has been received within 72 hours.
Documentation of a valid recovery certificate that doesn’t predate six months.
Failure to present a health pass results in various fines, whose severity varies depending on the individuals committed and number of offenses.
What and Who does the Law Affect?
Starting on September 15th, The law now requires all health care sector workers to be fully vaccinated, or else they risk being suspended. French citizen’s as well as tourists, require a valid ‘health pass’ to enter any cultural, leisure, culinary venues. In addition, the law limits travel to those presenting a valid health pass. The law affects all adults and will apply to all 12 and older by the end of September.
Following the unveiling of the bill, protests ensued as around 160,000 people all over France took to the streets to protest the new measures. These protests have been ongoing with protestors exclaiming their right to ‘freedom’ and saying ‘no to the health pass’. Citizen’s are feeling forced to comply and see the further measures as a limiting factor which they should not have to adapt. It has been said that Macron is forcing people to get vaccinated by employing measures that make routine life extremely difficult to operate without having been vaccinated. In addition to the general public backlash, leisure business owners, such as cafes, bars, and restaurants have been lenient with enforcing the necessity of a ‘health pass’ as turning away customers is bad for business in a already challenging period.
Macron has vocally addressed the French people, urging them to get vaccinated. He asked them to weigh their claim to their supposed deprivation of freedom against the risk of infecting, or killing a loved one.
Unfortunately, this is what it has come to. People who make such claims to their freedom being compromised because of the health pass must not understand the severity of this pandemic. In France alone, more than 110,000 have died because of the virus. To top it off, there has been a surge to 20,000 new daily infections and concern grows as to what is to come next.
With measures in place to protect individuals and limit the spread of Covid-19, you would think people would jump at the opportunity of putting an end to the death of the economy, social life, and most importantly people. The masses are being mobilized by institutions within France who value the economy more than they do the lives of the French people.
We have a responsibility as citizens of any country to protect one another from the spread of Covid-19. A year ago this seemed close to impossible, as we doubted our every step and slowly accustomed ourselves to our new Covid induced reality. Today, we are privileged enough to have safe and free access to the EU approved vaccines in France. If we let our selfishness and discomfort with the reality of the situation get in the way of doing the right thing, then we deserve to stay home and be excluded from activities we took for granted before Covid-19.
We must all take the necessary steps in order to combat the spread of Covid-19, the latest step is to get vaccinated. If you find yourself pressed to return to a semi-normal life, then get vaccinated. If you want to travel, then get vaccinated. If you want to protect your loved ones, then get vaccinated. It really is that simple, as is getting the vaccine in France today. Lay down your claims to deprivation of freedom, and take the necessary steps to free society from the pandemic today.