French parliament approves restaurant COVID pass and vaccine rules

PARIS (AP) – France’s parliament on Monday approved a law that requires special passes for all restaurant and domestic travel and requires vaccinations for all healthcare workers.

These two measures led to protests and political tensions. President Emmanuel Macron and his government say they need to protect vulnerable populations and hospitals as infections reoccur and to avoid further blockages.

The law requires all health sector workers under penalty of suspension of exposure to begin vaccination before September 15. You also need a “health pass” to enter all restaurants, trains, planes and other public places. Initially applicable to all adults, but starting September 30 will apply to everyone 12 years of age and older.

To receive a pass, people must have proof that they have been fully vaccinated, recently tested negative, or have recently recovered from the virus. Paper or digital documents will be accepted. The law states that a government decree will describe how to handle vaccination documents from other countries.

The bill was introduced six days back. Lawmakers worked nights and over the weekend to come up with a compromise version to be adopted by the Senate and the National Assembly after midnight on Sunday. The rules could be implemented till November 15 depending on the virus situation.

Macron called for national unity and mass vaccination to fight a resurgence of the virus and criticized those who promote sentiment and protests against vaccines.

Around 160,000 people demonstrated across France Against a special COVID-19 pass for restaurants and mandatory vaccination for health workers on Saturday. Many protesters chanted “Azadi!” Slogans. And said that the government should not tell them what to do.

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Later, while visiting a hospital in French Polynesia, Macron urged national unity and asked: “How much is your freedom worth if you tell me ‘I don’t want to get vaccinated’, but tomorrow you’ll be your father, Infect your mother or yourself?”

While he said protesters are “free to speak calmly and respectfully,” he said the protests will not take away the coronavirus.

He criticized “irrational, sometimes cynical and manipulative people” against vaccination. Among those organizing the protests were far-right politicians and extremist members of France’s Yellow Vest movement who took advantage of anger against Macron’s government.

More than 111,000 people have died from the virus in France, which records about 20,000 new infections every day, against a few thousand at the start of the month. Concerns about hospitals are emerging again.

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