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French Protest as Macron Announces ‘Health Pass’ Vaccine Passport Mandatory for Nearly All Public Life

Neil Campbell
Neil lives in Canada and writes about society and politics.
Published: July 15, 2021
A security staff member checks the health pass of a client, at the entrance of a nightclub in Saint-Jean-de-Monts, western France, on early July 10, 2021. (Image: SEBASTIEN SALOM-GOMIS/AFP via Getty Images)

France will implement vaccine passports across the country starting next month, according to a July 12 announcement by President Emmanuel Macron.

The Associated Press reported citizens will now be made to scan France’s QR code-based Health Pass system proving vaccine status, recovery from a previous infection, or a recent negative PCR test in order to access restaurants and bars, shopping centers, hospitals, or to use public transit such as trains or planes.

Starting July 21, the Health Pass will also be required to participate in recreational activities such as theme parks, festivals, and concerts. 

Macron further said all of the country’s healthcare workers will be required to accept vaccination by Sept. 15 on penalty of suspension without pay.

The president also announced France will begin charging for PCR testing to detect SARS-CoV-2 RNA in the throat or nasal tract. The service was previously free of charge.

“Our choice is simple: to put the restrictions on the unvaccinated rather than on all. This is the meaning of the health pass that will be extended,” said Macron, relying on the Delta variant of the coronavirus as his administration’s reasoning, in a translation of a televised address to the French public.

The move proved unpopular with the French public, as an estimated 19,000 took to the streets to protest, according to The Guardian, A 29-year-old who travelled from central France to Paris for the demonstrations told the outlet that the vaccine passport was mandated “segregation.”

A woman holds a placard reading in French “Never in my body the liquid of dictature shall enter” as she rallies in central Paris on July 14, 2021 to protest against a governmental decision to impose vaccine passports to participate in public society. (Image: GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/AFP via Getty Images)

“Macron plays on fears, it’s revolting. I know people who will now get vaccinated just so that they can take their children to the movies, not to protect others from serious forms of Covid,” the man said.

Macron administration spokesperson Gabriel Attal defended the vaccine passport requirement, saying, “There isn’t any vaccine obligation, this is maximum inducement.”

“I have a hard time understanding, in a country where 11 vaccines are already mandatory…that this could be seen as a dictatorship.”

Attal said because the still-experimental vaccines have been in circulation for close to a year, “the time of doubting is long past.”

Business Insider reported more than 900,000 citizens booked an injection the day Macron made his announcement.

France had already led Europe in the social-credit like endeavor when it began requiring all public-facing businesses to make customers scan QR codes for contact tracing with the TousAntiCovid app in January.

Health status or social credit system?

The QR-code tracking and gatekeeping system as a means of handling public health was pioneered by the People’s Republic of China (PRC). In April of 2020, CNN praised the Chinese regime for “fighting” the virus with its centrally managed digital QR code system.

The article opened with the lede, “Imagine your daily routine being entirely dependent on a smartphone app. Leaving your home, taking the subway, going to work, entering cafes, restaurants and shopping malls — each move, dictated by the color shown on your screen. Green: you’re free to proceed. Amber or Red: you’re barred from entry.”

It continued, “Although authorities have yet to make the health codes compulsory, in many cities, citizens without the app wouldn’t be able to leave their residential compounds or enter most public places.”

“Three months on, with the virus largely contained and lockdown measures gradually lifted across most of China, the small square barcodes have remained in place and are still ruling people’s lives,” said CNN from Hong Kong.

According to July 13 reporting from Breitbart, Italy is set to follow suit with a mandate for a  Green Pass, which works identically to France’s Health Pass, for citizens who wish to utilize the country’s high speed rail system.

Chris Tomlinson, author of the article, cautioned “Limiting the ability to use high-speed rail, as well as air travel, has been a major part of China’s social credit system for years. The system is said to rank Chinese citizens by their desirability and those who score too poorly are excluded from life opportunities, and even basic access to services.”

In May of 2019, Chinese Communist Party tabloid Global Times claimed the social credit system would “restore morality” while boasting the regime had blacklisted 13.49 million of its citizens for “being dishonest,” resulting in 20.47 million plane tickets and 5.71 million high speed railway tickets being blocked from purchase.

The article cited behavior such as failing to pay parking tickets, eating on public transit, and changing jobs with so-called “malicious intent” as reasons for the issuance of a social credit system yellow card.