As of Wednesday, everyone in France is required to show proof of a medical act in in order to access everyday venues with capacities above 50 people. That medical act can be either a government-approved COVID-19 vaccination or a test (PCR or antigen) taken within 48 hours.
Why would anyone buy into the notion that this is about public health when the hypocrisy is so glaring? So is the propaganda against those who choose to defend freedom over a false sense of security.
If you want to use the gym or the pool, you’ll have to show your “health pass” to some poor worker who’ll have to check each patron’s identity and QR code, lest his boss potentially be fined 1,000 euros (which the government reduced from a previously proposed 9,000 euros).
The pass itself is a massive impediment to daily life with little real value, because it imposes no test on vaccinated individuals. It’s only the second-class, non-vaccinated citizens who have to prove their negative COVID-19 status with test results. Meanwhile, vaccinated people, who are equally capable of carrying and transmitting the virus, won’t have to prove that they aren’t infected.
The recent evidence of viral transmission by and among vaccinated individuals is stunning. About 100 cases were reported on the British warship HMS Queen Elizabeth, all of whom had been double-jabbed, according to British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace. The French city of Bordeaux has seen the emergence of a COVID cluster of at least 35 patrons of a nightclub where the health pass had been required since early July. Fully vaccinated British Health Minister Sajid Javid revealed that he has tested positive for COVID-19, sending Prime Minister Boris Johnson into self-isolation as a result of contact tracing.
So really, what good are these health passes if they don’t ensure that vaccinated people aren’t going to contaminate the nonvaccinated? The answer is that they aren’t any good at all.
They seem to have more to do with politics than health. For example, they impose vaccination on patrons and workers of restaurants, bars and swimming pools while exempting office workplaces with dozens of people mingling in an open space. The government wants the pass to be imposed on the most spacious shopping malls with a surface area greater than 200,000 square meters, but not to apply to smaller spaces into which shoppers often find themselves crammed.
The Council of State, whose role is to advise the president and government on matters of administrative justice, has expressed, according to various sources, that it doesn’t have a problem with the pass, but singled out its application to shopping malls. Yet apparently, the council has no problem with selectively imposing restrictions on those who work out at the gym to maintain their health or who want to enjoy dinner outside on a restaurant patio.
And unlike workers in other establishments, from restaurants to hospitals, who’ll have to take the vaccine or succumb to multiple COVID-19 tests per week (at their own expense starting in October) with the alternative of being fired if they don’t, police officers will be exempt from the same constraints. All the better to help control the unruly protesters who have already begun spilling into the streets in France for a planned series of demonstrations against the affront to freedom that the health pass represents.
The protesters are from all walks of life — students, unionized and independent professionals, right-leaning libertarians, left-leaning defenders of workers’ rights, vaccinated and unvaccinated — and are united in a single cause: to prevent government from imposing apartheid on French society as a result of the health pass.
Instead of simply listening to this message, the government and its handmaidens are using propaganda against these protesters that is grotesque. French government spokesman Gabriel Attal dismissed them as “a capricious and defeatist fringe, very much in the minority, who would be happy to remain in chaos and inactivity.” And while the protests were being televised live, some media outlets were describing the pro-freedom movement as “anti-vaccination.”
The COVID-19 vaccines and tests being forced onto citizens are well worth debating. The fact that health authorities have said everything and its opposite over the course of this pandemic has created trust and credibility issues that now extend to their peddling of injections. And to dismiss as mere cranks or conspiracy theorists the people who oppose government’s efforts to create different classes of citizens with a health pass is a disingenuous act of propaganda.
Rachel Marsden is a columnist, political strategist and host of an independently produced French-language TV program.