Macron is in a hole of his own making
French soldiers marched on the Champs Elysees last Wednesday, because after the 2020 coronavirus break, the July 14 celebrations returned to Paris. But it seems that the irony of celebrating the French Revolution and the freedom it symbolized was not lost on everyone, as thousands took to the streets to protest the “sanitary pass” or vaccination passport as we know it. It is estimated that 19,000 people demonstrated across France, particularly in Paris, Marseille, Lyon and Toulouse, against the compulsory vaccination of health workers and the widespread use of the health pass.
Last Monday, President Emmanuel Macron announced a number of new Covid measures that should affect anyone keen to live in a free society. From September 15, healthcare staff and people working with the elderly or vulnerable will be required to be vaccinated against Covid. Second, the health pass, already used for large-scale events such as concerts and sports matches, will be extended to cover almost all of public life. As of Wednesday, people will have to show proof of a vaccination, a negative Covid test or a recent recovery from the disease, before being allowed to enter cinemas and theaters. From August, this will be further expanded to include everything from bars and cafes to long-distance train rides. It did not go well: Friday, two vaccination centers were ransacked.
All this to fight against the fourth wave of Covid in France. The number of cases is increasing rapidly and with the more transmissible delta variant now the dominant strain in France, Macron fears an increase in hospitalizations.
In his speech last Monday, the president urged his fellow citizens to get vaccinated as “the only way back to normal life.” Well, maybe Macron should have thought about it in January, when he called the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine “near-ineffective” just hours before it was approved for European use by the European Health Agency. drugs. He and his girlfriend Angela Merkel have been making all kinds of questionable noises about AstraZeneca’s jab, encouraging an already dubious French public to avoid getting the shot. This was beyond irresponsibility, given that it was well known that the French in particular were skeptical of the Covid vaccine – an Ifop survey carried out in December found that 61% of the French did not want a Covid vaccine .
The deployment of the vaccine in France has also been appalling. There was no contact with vulnerable groups asking them to reserve their vaccines, nor clear instructions on how to do so. People had to find out for themselves when they were eligible for a vaccine, and then book through various websites. My Parisian in-laws – both aged 70 – didn’t receive their first jab until the end of March. For comparison, England was already offering vaccines to people over 50 at the end of March. It is no wonder that France is still lagging behind in the number of vaccinations. And yet Macron had the audacity to threaten his fellow citizens with compulsory vaccinations for all, before asserting that, for the moment, he “made the choice to trust” – what generosity. And how dare Macron scold the French for the shit he finds himself in, when it is largely on his own initiative?
Leading through fear seems to have done the trick, however, and 3 million vaccine appointments have been booked since Monday’s announcement. But it’s hardly surprising that people are completely excluded from normal society if they can’t prove their immunization status. As rumors continue in the UK about the introduction of vaccine passports for pubs, restaurants and shops, it is worth considering what this actually means. A passport-vaccine company is a company where medical confidentiality is denied; it is a society in which there are two classes of citizens, the vaccinated and the unvaccinated; and it is a society in which your every move outside your home would be followed by the state. To sum up, or as the French say, “in short”, it is not a free society.
That the head of the country of “freedom, equality, fraternity” now resort to threats of medical interventions mandated by the state and authoritarianism of health cards, such as has never been seen in a democratic country, is utter shame.
One can only hope that the French rediscover the spirit of Bastille, reject Macron’s authoritarianism and regain their freedom. Me, I trust the Parisian waiters. If Macron thinks that even one of the famous disdainful “waiters” of his capital will stop to ask for health papers from a client before slamming “yes?” At home for their order, so he’s really missing a picnic wand.