After four days and nights of meetings, the French parliament gave its approval on Sunday evening to the extension of the sanitary pass, the corona passport, for all places that receive the public. The vote came a day after more than 100,000 people took to the streets across France against what they label as a “health dictatorship.”
The corona passport has been mandatory since 21 July in cultural institutions from an occupancy of fifty people. At the beginning of August (the constitutional court still has to rule on the case on 5 August) it will also be mandatory in cafes and restaurants, on trains and on planes, and when visiting old people’s homes. It can consist of a vaccination certificate, a negative test or proof that one has had Covid-19 and therefore built up antibodies.
The government’s original plan has been watered down on a number of points. Where operators of catering businesses used to risk up to a year in prison and a fine of 45,000, offenders are now first given notice of default, possibly followed by a closure of their business for a maximum of seven days. Anyone who reoffends still risks a year in prison and a fine of nine thousand euros. Also, the operators will not be asked to verify the identity of the customers, only the police can do that.
Customers who cheat with the corona passport can also be punished: from 135 euros for the first offense to 3,750 euros and six months in prison for recidivism. The French media report that fake QR codes are already being offered on the internet for prices from 200 to 500 euros.
Minors from the age of twelve will be granted a postponement: they will not have to show a corona passport until September 30.
The new law also regulates mandatory vaccination for healthcare staff. In retirement homes and long-term care facilities in particular, staff are still lagging behind the population as a whole in terms of vaccination. By July 18, 64.5 percent had received one shot and 54.9 percent had received two shots, compared with 70 and 58 percent of the adult population as a whole.
The healthcare staff will be given a little more time: those who have a first injection between now and mid-September will have until mid-October to complete the process. Here too, the sanctions have been relaxed by parliament. Where previously they were threatened with dismissal after two months, vaccine refusers will now be sent first on paid leave, then on unpaid leave.
The repressive approach seems to be having an effect. In the week following the speech in which President Emmanuel Macron announced the extension of the corona passport on July 12, almost four million people made a vaccine appointment via the Doctolib platform. On Monday, France took the hurdle of 40 million vaccinated, or 60 percent of the total population. The aim is that by the end of August, 50 million French people will have received at least one shot.
At the same time, protests against the measures are also increasing. Last Saturday, more than 10,000 people took to the streets in Paris and more than 160,000 throughout France. That was fifty thousand more than on the first day of protest on 17 July. It is expected that another demonstration will take place next Saturday.
Also read this article about compulsory vaccination in Europe