Papers Please: Paris Police Patrol Cafes for Vaccine Passports

A French Police officer performs educational checks of health passes and verifies the correct application of controls by the manager at the entrance of a zoo in Amneville, eastern France, on July 22, 2021. - French cinemas, museums and sports venues began asking visitors to furnish proof of Covid-19 vaccination …
JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN/AFP via Getty Images

French President Emmanuel Macron’s controversial and dystopian vaccine passport system came into effect on Monday, with police patrolling the streets and cafes of Paris, demanding citizens present health papers.

The vaccine passport or ‘pass sanitaire’ in French has now become a requirement for much of life in France, effectively creating a two-tiered society in which those who have been vaccinated will be granted more liberties if they can present their papers.

The digital certificate logs whether you have been vaccinated for more than seven days, or in the case of the Johnson & Johnson jab, four weeks. The pass also includes information on whether you have had a negative coronavirus test within the past 72 hours or can prove to have recovered from the Chinese virus in the past six months.

Starting on Monday, it has become a requirement to present the health pass to enter bars, cafes, and restaurants, including those with outdoor seating. The only exemption for this will be for drive-thru restaurants.

Vaccine passports are also mandated for people making long-distance journeys, including on busses, planes, and trains. The mandate has not extended to local public transport, however. Random checks by police on train platforms will be carried out in order to force compliance with the law.

Vaccine passports have now become a requirement to enter hospitals and care homes for visitors, except in emergency circumstances.

Health Minister Olivier Véran said last week that there will be a carve-out for end of life visits but said: “the frequent visits of families to bring flowers to a patient, it is over because it causes clusters”.

Those who fail to comply with the new health papers diktats will face fines of 135 Euros and businesses which fail to enforce the mandate will incur fines of up to 9,000 euros for repeated offences as well as a one-year prison sentence for the managers.

By the end of the month, a vaccine passport will also be required for employees of businesses open to the public or risk having their employment suspended. The suspension will continue until either the worker is able to present a valid health pass or is offered a position away from the public. Starting on September 15th all care home workers will be required to be inoculated for employment.

By the end of September, the health pass requirements will be applied to children between the age of 12 and 17-years-old as well as for adults, as they are from this week.

The controversial measures have sparked nationwide protests over the past four weeks, with an estimated 200,000 people marching against vaccine passports on Saturday.

There has been growing public opposition to draconian measures as well, with forty per cent of the French public saying that they are in favour of the demonstrations against vaccine passports.

A further fifty-one per cent have said that even if they don’t necessarily support the movement, they “understand” the reasoning behind the anti-vax pass demos, according to a Harris Interactive poll.

President Macron has argued that the health pass is intended to protect the freedoms of others, saying: “It’s about citizenship. Freedom only exists if the freedom of everyone is protected… it’s worth nothing if by exercising our freedom we contaminate our brother, neighbour, friend, parents, or someone we have come across at an event. Then freedom becomes irresponsibility.”

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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