French lawmakers from France’s ruling party received death threats from anti-vaccination protestors over a bill that imposes further restrictions on unvaccinated people. The new bill went into effect mid-January despite tens of thousands of unvaccinated people protesting throughout France, according to Euro News. The backlash against French politicians came from anti-vaccination protestors and widespread fatigue of the pandemic and restrictions taken to tackle it.
Lawmakers have faced aggression like vandalism and violent threats. “We will not yield,” Yaël Braun-Pivet, of the ruling La République en Marche (LREM) party, told Parliament. She was referencing death threats that politicians have received. “It’s our democracy that is at stake.” Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said 52 lawmakers received death threats after the proposal of this bill and said police will take necessary precautions to protect them. One lawmaker’s garage was set on fire and adjacent to the garage was graffiti, suspected by anti-vaccination activists.
The vaccine pass aims to strengthen the tools for managing the health crisis after an increase in COVID-19 infections due to Delta and Omicron. While France has a lot of vaccine skeptics, 77% of the population has been fully vaccinated with 80% having received at least one dose according to Reuters’ coronavirus graphic. Euro News reports France noted record-high COVID-19 cases, with nearly half a million daily infections in mid-January. Euro News also reports that nearly 75% of patients in intensive care units in France are COVID-19 cases.
France 24 reports that the anti-pandemic bill no longer accepts negative Covid tests instead of proof of vaccination to access leisure activities like dining at restaurants, pubs, fairs, seminars, and trade shows, as well as long-distance public transportation like planes, trains, and buses. The exception to public transportation is if people without a vaccine pass are traveling for a “compelling family or health reason.” This exception still requires proof of a negative Covid test. Anyone over 16 years old is required to show proof of vaccination. The bill was voted in with 215 in favor to 58 against, a majority of France’s parties backing it. “Last summer, the health pass is what allowed us to face the [virus] wave and keep open a certain number of businesses: well here it is the same,” Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, France’s minister for tourism and small businesses, said on Europe 1 radio.
The bill also looks to include booster shots, requiring booster shots to be required four months after the previous dose for the vaccine pass to remain valid. Reports of unvaccinated people buying fake health pass to avoid restrictions encouraged this new bill to crack down on offenders. If there is reason to believe that the vaccine document presented is not real, then an ID or official document with a photograph may be requested. If a person shows a pass belonging to someone else or has given a pass with different information to another person, this offense may be punishable by 1,000 euros for the first offense. Possession of several fake passes is punishable by five years and a fine of 75,000 euros. If a person commits to a vaccination program, then there will be no penalty. For owners of establishments requiring vaccine passes, failure of implementing measures would result in a 1,000 euro fine.
The French government is planning to lift restrictions in February. Work-from-home rules and reopening of nightclubs two weeks later will be allowed as the COVID-19 situation in France starts to improve, Prime Minister Jean Castex said on January 30th. Capacity restrictions on sports and entertainment venues and wearing masks outdoors will no longer be required starting February 2nd. Reuters says Covid protocols in school like mask-wearing may be relaxed after the winter holidays.