Tens of thousands protest against Macron’s health pass in France

More than 100,000 people protested in France on Saturday, sparking clashes with police as they railed against Covid-19 measures and government sanctions against the unvaccinated aimed at prodding more people into getting jabs.

Tens of thousands protest against Macron's health pass in France
French activist Jean-Baptiste Redde also known as Voltuan holds a sign reading "Macron, Véran, Castex are killing our freedom" during a demonstration against the compulsory vaccination for certain workers and the mandatory use of the health pass called by the French government, in Paris on July 24th, 2021. Since July 21st, people wanting to go in most public spaces in France have to show proof of Covid-19 vaccination or a negative test. (Photo by Sameer Al-DOUMY / AFP)

In France, where police deployed teargas and water cannon against some protesters, an estimated 160,000 took to the streets in nationwide protests against President Emmanuel Macron’s health pass that will drastically curtail access to restaurants and public spaces for unvaccinated people.

“Freedom, freedom”, chanted demonstrators in France, carrying placards denouncing “Macron, Tyrant”, “Big Pharma shackles freedom” or saying “No to
the pass of shame”.

Demonstrators hold up placards and banners, one of which reads as ‘Macron = Treason’ during a protest against the vaccination and the compulsory health pass called for by the French government, in Toulouse, southwestern France, on July 24th, 2021. (Photo by Fred SCHEIBER / AFP)

The demonstrations highlight the conflict between people caught between the advice of the World Health Organisation and other public health agencies and the need to earn a living — or simply to return to a pre-pandemic lifestyle.

In Indonesia and the UK, governments have pressed ahead with easing of restrictions even in the face of surging case numbers.
In France, as elsewhere in Europe, the government is making it harder for reluctant citizens to put off getting the jabs.

Legislation now being considered by lawmakers will make vaccinations compulsory for certain professions, while the controversial health pass will severely restrict social life for holdouts from the end of July.

A mask of French President Emmanuel Macron with “liar, manipulator” written on it is displayed during a demonstration against the compulsory vaccination for certain workers in Paris on July 24th, 2021. (Photo by Sameer Al-DOUMY / AFP)

There were signs the tougher measures announced on July 13th were having the desired effect: 48 percent of the population were fully vaccinated as of Friday, up eight percentage points from July 10.

While more than three-quarters of French people backed Macron’s measures, according to a July 13th Elabe poll for BFMTV, a sizeable and vocal minority do not.

Elodie, 34, a care assistant at a Strasbourg nursing home, denounced “the blackmail of caregivers who were at the front line” during the first wave and who are now threatened” with “no more pay” and even being fired.

“They’ve been lying to us since the beginning,” she said.

Protests also took place in Italy, with protesters gathering in Rome to demonstrate against a mandatory “green pass” for indoor dining and entertainment.

Member comments

  1. It’s refreshing to see even the dimwits having a day out. At least they got the opportunity to spread the virus even more.

    1. As I understand it, the vaccine doesn’t prevent transmission or catching the disease but gives a better outcome if you do catch it.

          1. Presuming that isn’t in jest… Why? Once fully-vaccinated, the likelihood of catching the disease is significantly reduced; and, as you yourself have said, if you do catch it once vaccinated, it’s usually mild. Combined with masking and social distancing, the risk of catching it then becomes quite low.

  2. Good to see France also has its share of conspiracy theorists. Social media has a lot to answer for.

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French government votes to allow return of Covid tests at border

The French parliament has passed the controversial health bill which updates France's emergency provisions for Covid - and allows the return of negative Covid tests for all travellers at the border, if the health situation requires.

French government votes to allow return of Covid tests at border

The Loi sanitaire was eventually approved by the Assemblée nationale on Monday after several variations and amendments added on its passage through the Assemblée and the Senate. It was voted on and passed Tuesday, May 26th. 

The bill replaces the State of Health Emergency that has been in place since March 2020 and puts in place provision for government actions should the health situation deteriorate or a dangerous new variant of Covid emerge.

The original text had a provision for the return of the health pass at the border, but this has now been scrapped and instead the government has the right to make a negative Covid test a condition of entry for all travellers.

At present negative tests are required only for unvaccinated travellers, and the new test requirement would only be put into force if a dangerous new variant emerges.

The government will be able to implement the testing rule by decree for two months, but a further parliamentary debate would be required to extend it beyond that.

From August 1st the State of Health Emergency will be formally repealed, which means that the government no longer has the power to introduce major limits on personal freedom such as lockdowns or curfews without first having a debate in parliament.

The bill also allows for an extension of data collection required for the SI-DEP epidemic monitoring tools such as the contact tracing app Tous Anti Covid until June 30th, 2023 and Contact Covid until January 31st, 2023. 

The most controversial measure in the bill was the reinstatement of healthcare workers who were suspended for being unvaccinated – this actually only involves a couple of hundred people but medical unions and the medical regulator Haut Autorité de Santé (HAS) have both been against it.

However the bill allows for the eventual lifting of the requirement for Covid vaccination for healthcare workers, when the HAS judges it is no longer necessary and once the requirement is lifted, the suspended healthcare workers will be reinstated “immediately”.

The bill was approved on Monday evening with 184 votes to 149, the result of a joint committee that was able to harmonise the versions of the Assembly and the Senate.

The final vote passed the Senate on Tuesday.