Monday, July 19, 2021

Having Weathered Gilets Jaune, Macron Knows He Can Force mRNA Compliance

Guardian |  Within 72 hours of the French learning they would soon need to be vaccinated or tested to go to the cafe, more than 3 million had booked appointments and France had broken its vaccination record, administering 800,000 shots in a single day.

At the same time, daily infections, driven by the more contagious Delta variant, continued to climb, reaching nearly 9,000 on Wednesday – and on Bastille Day, about 20,000 demonstrators nationwide protested against what some called a “dictatorship”.

Polls show more than 65% public support for the range of measures unveiled by Emmanuel Macron on Monday, aimed, in the president’s words, not at “making vaccination immediately obligatory for everyone … but at pushing a maximum of you to go and get vaccinated”.

Critics, however, accuse the government of discriminating against vaccine sceptics and those who will not be fully inoculated before the rules come into effect, while others say the government is effectively imposing general vaccination by stealth, trampling on individual rights and freedoms.

Macron announced that from 21 July, anyone visiting a theatre, cinema, sports venue or festival with an audience of more than 50 people would need a health pass proving they were either fully vaccinated, had tested negative or were immune.

The same requirement will be extended to bars, cafes, restaurants, shopping centres (though not supermarkets), hospitals, long-distance trains, coaches and planes from 1 August, he said – including for children aged between 12 and 17 from 1 September.

People unable to present a valid health pass risk up to six months in prison and a fine of up to €10,000 (£8,500), according to the draft text of the law, while owners of “establishments welcoming the public” who fail to check patrons’ passes could go to jail for a year and be hit with a €45,000 fine.

Meanwhile, non-essential free coronavirus testing will also end in September, “to further encourage vaccination”, and healthcare professionals and retirement home workers who have not been vaccinated by 15 September will be suspended for a month to allow them to do so. Thereafter, they risk dismissal.

The big stick approach to vaccination, which goes further than that adopted by most governments, has had an immediate impact on take-up.



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