Protests in France against new coronavirus rules

coronavirus france
French President Emmanuel Macron has introduced new coronavirus rules, which have been met with protests across France. Source: Paul Kagame (via. Flickr)
French President, Emmanuel Macron, has announced a controversial COVID-19 rule in France that has garnered protests for four weeks in a row.

By Luthien Evans | Political Editor

French President Emmanuel Macron has announced a controversial COVID-19 rule in France that has garnered protests for four weeks in a row.

The rule will require citizens to have proof of vaccination or provide a negative coronavirus test result for various activities including visiting restaurants, travel and various other everyday activities, in what is known as a ‘health pass’.

Legislation prior to the new enactments stated that those with a valid ‘health pass’ would be able to visit cultural sites that house over fifty people, such as cinemas and museums. These laws will be in place until November 15.

The new extension of the law will give further power to the ‘health pass’ as it will be required in hospitals, restaurants, planes, high-speed trains and shopping centers amongst other places. The pass will not be needed on metro systems and suburban transport.

The addition of the ‘health pass’ would make it obligatory to either be fully vaccinated, provide a negative test result or have recently recovered from COVID-19 in order to partake in various public social activities.

The ‘health pass’ has been added with the hope that every French citizen viable will be vaccinated, in order to help fight the spread of coronavirus.

How have the new rules been met?
Historically, the concept of ‘freedom’ for French citizens has been a matter of great importance, as demonstrated by the French Revolution and enshrined in the constitution that followed.

The Counseil Constitutionnel (the French constitutional court) has ‘broadly backed’ the new coronavirus rules that have been set out by President Macron. The main feature, previously mentioned, of the vaccine passport providing immunisation and testing status information has been accepted constitutionally and will be enacted on August 9, on track with Macron’s plans.

Opposition has come from various sources – from opposition lawmakers, Prime Minister Castex, as well as large groups of protesters located in cities across the country.

The Counseil Constitutionnel highlighted, removed and censured various features of the bill, which it deemed as going against the constitution. This included a section of the law that would have allowed employers to terminate short-term contracts for those without a valid vaccine passport.

The courts also partially blocked a section of the legislation that made citizens who had tested positive enter automatic isolation.

Protests against the legislation
With the nature of such a piece of legislation, protesters have been opposing the ‘health pass’ and taken to the streets in large cities for four weekends in a row.

With a few days before the legislation is enacted, the protest numbers have increased, with recorded numbers of 237,000 citizens protesting across France, up by 33,000 from the previous weekend.

Reports from France24 have stated that the protesters in Paris were chanting ‘Freedom!’ and ‘Macron, we don’t want your pass!’. Signs in other cities displayed signs stating that ‘The health pass means the death of freedoms.’

Despite the protests, reports have shown that the vaccine rollout has ‘gathered steam’ since the ‘health pass’ was announced – around 55% of the French population have now been double jabbed. For comparison, the UK, having had made more initial progress than its EU counterparts, now has around 74% of adults that have received both doses of the vaccine.

The new set of rules will be enforced in France from August 9, despite protests.

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Tom Kingsbury Politics

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