The French parliament voted Monday to require COVID-19 vaccine passports to participate in public life. The policy is even stricter for health-care workers. France joins a growing list of countries to pass COVID passport legislation and to receive pushback from protesters.
The bill mandates that a “health pass” is necessary to enter restaurants, planes, trains, and other public venues. French residents must either provide proof of vaccination, proof of a negative test result, or proof of recently recovering from the virus. The blanket mandate initially applies to all adults, but will apply to everyone 12 years and older beginning in September.
Health-care workers face suspension if they refuse to receive the vaccine by September 15. The measure effectively remains in place until November 15. Since the French government is quickly creating rules to mitigate cases, it is not known if unvaccinated workers will be unsuspended after November 15.
Protesters mobilized in droves in response to the French government’s vaccine mandates. On Saturday, roughly 160,000 demonstrators protested around the country, demanding liberty and autonomy.
French President Emmanuel Macron defended the mandates, saying, “What is your freedom worth if you say to me ‘I don’t want to be vaccinated,’ but tomorrow you infect your father, your mother or myself?”
He further criticized and scoffed at protesters’ concerns, labeling them as “people who are in the business of irrational, sometimes cynical, manipulative mobilization” against vaccination.
Although the majority of demonstrations were peaceful, riot police sprayed tear gas after protesters threw a chair and other projectiles. Nine arrests were made following altercations between protesters and police.
Italy has also tightened restrictions on the unvaccinated with a “green pass,” which mandates similar requirements as the French passports. Effective on August 6, the pass will be required to go to public pools, gyms, sports stadiums, museums, spas, casinos, movie theaters, and indoor restaurants. Italian officials pushed for this restriction out of fear of the new wave of the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus.
Japan followed suit on Monday by opening applications for COVID vaccination certificates for Japanese citizens to travel internationally without having to quarantine. The currently voluntary, paper-bound certificates act as official records and will soon evolve into a digital app. The Japan Business Federation, the country’s largest business lobby, proposed that the certificates also be implemented to raise event attendance limits and for restaurants to issue discounts for the vaccinated.
Since COVID lockdowns constantly vacillate in Australia, the Australian federal government proposed COVID vaccine passports in June for those who wish to travel internationally and within the country. Using records from the Australian Immunization Register, Australia’s digital certificate shows the inoculations a person has received on the Express Plus Medicare app.
Protests erupted in Sydney on Saturday to protest lockdown restrictions. Some furious participants divulged into violence by throwing flower pots at mounted police officers as well as attempting to punch a police horse.