After video emerged of Parisians having to show their vaccine passport papers to police in order to sit outside a cafe, President Macron asserted that the system protected people’s “freedom.”
As we highlighted yesterday, footage showed uniformed French police patrolling cafes and restaurants demanding proof of vaccination.
Those unable or unwilling to show their papers face massive fines, while business owners could even go to prison if they refuse to enforce the system.
Les premiers contrôles de #Police ont démarré à titre préventif à #Paris dans les cafés et restaurants où le #PassSanitaire est obligatoire dès aujourd'hui. Verbalisation de 135 euros à partir de la semaine prochaine, jusqu'à 9000 euro en cas de récidive.#Passanitaire #reuters pic.twitter.com/Vvyh75sun3— Antony Paone (@PaoneAntony) August 9, 2021
However, the new program may end up putting a lot of people out of business given the multitude of images that showed normally busy cafes and restaurants all but empty.
Ignoring the threat of legal action, half of the establishments canvassed by Reuters said they were refusing to enforce the checks.
Despite the fact that the French haven’t experienced such an intense ‘papers please’ society since the Nazi occupation, President Macron insisted that vaccine passports were about protecting people’s “freedom”.
“It’s about citizenship. Freedom only exists if the freedom of everyone is protected,” Macron said, adding, “it’s worth nothing if by exercising our freedom we contaminate our brother, neighbor, friend, parents, or someone we have come across at an event, Then freedom becomes irresponsibility.”
However, Julien Odoul of the right-leaning Rassemblement National slammed the French government, asserting, “The constitutional council has approved a two-tier society where there are two categories of citizens who don’t have the same rights, depending on their vaccine status.”
“This is Macron’s society and one that we condemn and reject. The principles of liberty and equality are sacred,” he added.
Leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon agreed with Odoul, describing the system as “absurd, unfair and authoritarian.”
Having been initially rolled out for anyone wishing to visit a bar, restaurant, cafe, cinema or use intercity trains, the vaccine passports will be extended on August 30 to include anyone who works in a job that involves interaction with the public.
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