France passes law to exclude unvaccinated people from public places
French parliament approves law that will exclude unvaccinated people from all restaurants, sports areas, tourist sites and even trains: Macron faces criticism rule is overkill with 91 per cent of the population already jabbed against Covid
- French parliament approved law to ban unvaccinated people from public places
- People now have to show proof of vaccination, not a negative PCR test, for entry
- Comes after President Macron said that he wanted to ‘p*** off’ the unvaccinated
- ‘Overkill’ law and profane comments have led to widespread criticism of Macron
- 91 per cent of the French population are already double jabbed against Covid-19
The French parliament has approved a law that will exclude unvaccinated people from all restaurants, sports areas, tourist sites and even trains.
President Emmanuel Macron has faced criticism that the new vaccine pass is overkill and will do little to slow hospitalisations because 91 per cent of the population are already jabbed against Covid-19.
Up until now, a Covid-19 pass has been required in France to go to most public sites throughout the country, but unvaccinated people have been allowed in if they show a recent negative test or proof of recent recovery.
But the new law, which applies to everyone aged 16 and over, requires full vaccination and removes the test option, effectively barring unvaccinated people from such venues.
Some exceptions could be made for those who have recently recovered from Covid-19 but the law, set to come into force by the end of the week, also imposes tougher fines for fake passes and allows ID checks to avoid fraud.
It is the central measure of government efforts to protect hospitals amid record numbers of Covid infections driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant.
The plans have faced fierce resistance from anti-vaccination campaigners and far-right and far-left groups, but was backed by the government which has a majority in parliament.
President Emmanuel Macron has faced criticism that the new vaccine pass is overkill and will do little to slow hospitalisations because 91 per cent of the population are already jabbed against Covid-19
French parliament has approved a law that will exclude unvaccinated people from all restaurants, sports areas, tourist sites and even trains despite widespread protests against the measures (pictured, on July 31, 2021)
Macron’s government is hoping the new pass will be enough to limit the number of patients filling up strained hospitals nationwide without resorting to a new lockdown.
New confinement measures would strike another blow to the economy, and could also cloud Macron’s chances of re-election in the April 10 presidential vote.
More than 76 per cent of French ICU beds are occupied by coronavirus patients, most of them unvaccinated, and some 200 people with the virus are dying every day.
Like many countries, France is in the grip of an Omicron wave, recording more than 2,800 positive cases per 100,000 people over the past week.
The National Assembly adopted the law by a vote of 215-58. Macron, 44, had hoped to push the Bill through faster, but it was slightly delayed due to resistance from politicians both on the right and left and hundreds of proposed amendments.
Far-right leader Marine le Pen wrote on Twitter yesterday that, if elected, she would ‘remove this useful and draconian measure’, in reference to the new legislation.
Left wing politician François Ruffin said the vaccine pass made unvaccinated people ‘second class citizens’ and asked ‘what have you done with our souls?’
Christophe Castaner, a member of Macron’s La Republic en Marche party, rebutted Ruffin, saying ‘the fight you are leading is already lost’, citing a recent increase in vaccine uptake.
The new law comes after Macron said earlier this month he wanted to ‘p*** off’ unvaccinated people by making their lives so complicated they would end up getting jabbed.
He made the cutting remark while responding to a nurse during a question and answer session with readers of Le Parisien on how the government will handle non-vaccinated people.
‘By – and I’m sorry for putting it this way – by p***ing them off even more,’ Macron said.
‘I’m generally opposed to the French being p****d off. I complain all the time about administrative blockages. But when it comes to the non-vaccinated, I’m very keen to pi** them off. So we’re going to do it, the end. That’s our strategy.’
The phrase prompted howls of condemnation from rivals and forced parliament to suspend a debate on a Covid bill on January 5 as opposition lawmakers demanded explanations from Macron.
But the government backed Macron. ‘Who is pissing off who today?’, government spokesperson Gabrial Attal said, quoting health workers struggling to cope or businesses hurt by the pandemic. ‘It’s those who refuse the vaccine.’
‘A president cannot say such things,’ Christian Jacob, chair of the conservative Les Republicans party, told parliament on January 5 as it discussed the new legislation.
‘I’m in favour of the vaccine pass but I cannot back a text whose objective is to ‘p*** off’ the French,’ Jacob said.
‘Is that your objective, yes or no? We cannot keep debating without having a clear answer on that.’
‘A president shouldn’t say that,’ Le Pen responded on Twitter. ‘Emmanuel Macron is unworthy of his office.’
In the Le Parisien interview, Macron, who has consistently called on everyone in France to get vaccinated, also called unvaccinated people irresponsible and – in another remark criticised by some voters and the opposition, that ‘irresponsible people are no longer citizens’.
He said he aims to irritate the unvaccinated into submission, rather than round them up and prosecute them.
‘I won’t send (the unvaccinated) to prison, I won’t vaccinate by force. So we need to tell them, from Jan. 15, you won’t be able to go to the restaurant anymore, you won’t be able to down one, won’t be able to have a coffee, go to the theatre, the cinema…’
France has historically had more vaccine sceptics than many of its neighbours, and pandemic restrictions have triggered many street protests.
Thousands of anti-vaccine protestors demonstrated in Paris and some other cities on Saturday against the law, but their numbers were down sharply from the week before, just after Macron’s remarks.
Protesters hold posters reading ‘Freedom’ and ‘No To Health Pass’ during a demonstration in Paris on August 14
Protesters hold posters reading ‘Freedom’ and ‘No To Health Pass’ during a demonstration held last year by right-wing party ‘Les Patriotes’ against the COVID-19 sanitary pass which grants vaccinated individuals greater ease of access to venues in France, in Paris, France
What are the rules for Britons jetting off to France?
What are the rules?
Vaccinated travellers are allowed in if they have evidence of a negative Covid test taken within 24 hours of departure.
Isolation on arrival has also been scrapped.
Booster vaccines are required for holidaymakers hoping to qualify for a pass sanitaire – which permits access to restaurants, museums and ski lifts.
What were they?
France made the decision on December 18 to close its borders to British holidaymakers in a bid to slow the spread of the Omicron variant.
France had already slightly eased restrictions for Brits – with last week seeing anyone with compelling business trips being allowed in.
The rules dictated anyone arriving from the UK had to show a negative Covid test at the border, before completing a 48-hour quarantine, and then undergoing another test.
The new law comes days after Tourism Minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne said Britons would be allowed into France from January 14.
Vaccinated travellers are allowed in if they have evidence of a negative Covid test taken within 24 hours of departure, with isolation on arrival also scrapped.
Baptiste-Lemoyne tweeted out the update on Thursday morning, saying ‘we are relaxing entry conditions’.
The minister said the new measures would be published in an official decree on Friday, but were ‘immediately effective’.
British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said his French counterpart told him the decision was due to ‘the UK’s falling infection rate’.
There was widespread anger within the travel industry when France imposed travel restrictions in December because of spiralling Covid-19 rates in the UK.
British ministers had also privately accused Mr Macron of ‘playing politics’ by keeping the border closed, despite devastating economic results.
The move last week was welcomed by tourist-starved resorts which had been begging Macron to change his mind.
Chris Logan, managing director of Britain’s biggest winter sports operator Crystal Ski, said: ‘Like the rest of the ski community, I’m delighted we’ll be able to hit the slopes in France once again.
‘It’s been a challenging start to the season with Switzerland and France both imposing short-term bans, and complex and ever-changing testing requirements.
‘But with the relaxation of UK testing and the Alps open to the UK again, I’m feeling really optimistic. We’ve seen a steady increase in searches and bookings in the last two weeks.
‘Bookings to France doubled [on Wednesday] even before the announcement and we would expect to see another very positive uptick now it’s official.’
He added: ‘The outlook is good, there are great deals available, so now is the time to book.’
One company reported a 336 per cent surge in bookings to La Rosiere and a 70 per cent rise in trips to Les Arcs. Flight prices have also shot up amid a rush to take to the slopes as soon as the borders reopen.
Flight prices have also shot up amid a rush to take to the slopes as soon as the borders reopen (file photo)
One company reported a 336 per cent surge in bookings to La Rosiere and a 70 per cent rise in trips to Les Arcs (file photo of the Eurostar)
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