"If they force me to get vaccinated, I will resign"
Fourth consecutive Saturday of protests against the French covid passport and the obligation of health workers to be vaccinated
ParisTwo days after the Constitutional Council has given the go-ahead to the extension of the health passport, which from Monday onwards will also have to be presented to enter bars and restaurants, some 240,000 French have taken to the streets across the country for the fourth consecutive Saturday to protest against what they consider "a health dictatorship". Even so, according to polls, the majority of French people see with good eyes the initiative of the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, who pushes citizens to vaccination points.
Thus, the Elysée has prevented the pace of vaccination from stagnating, as feared, since France is one of the countries with the highest percentage of skeptics regarding the efficiency of the vaccine: almost six out of ten French people did not want to be vaccinated at the beginning of the year. In fact, on 12 July itself, when Macron, with an eye on the presidential elections in April next year, announced the extension of the covid passport in a solemn speech, one million people made an appointment to be vaccinated and, over the course of the week, three million more. Right now, there are already more than 44 million French people (66% of the population) with at least one dose.
In addition, Macron announced that from September onwards all health professionals who want to continue working will have to be vaccinated, a measure that the Constitutional Council has also validated this week and that is aimed, above all, at nurses, of which only 55% had wanted to be vaccinated before the speech of the French president. "I do not know what I will do in September, but I have not been vaccinated and I will not do it. If they force me, I will resign", replies a nurse - he prefers not to give his name - who is taking part in the demonstration in his work clothes. "I am not against vaccines, I am against this vaccine. We don't know how it will go and they can't force us to get it, that's why we are cautious. At the very least, everyone should be free to choose whether they want to be vaccinated or not", adds another nurse.
On Wednesday, 21July he first extension of the covid passportcame into force, which is acquired with the full course of the vaccine or a negative test and must be presented to access cultural and sports venues with a capacity of more than 50 people, such as concerts and festivals, museums, most theaters, cinemas and gyms. And, from 1 August, it is also required to enter homes for the elderly, planes, coaches and long-distance trains, as well as restaurants and bars (including terraces).
"Do think it's normal? When they start to curtail your freedoms they don't stop, we can't keep quiet!" replies a woman - she doesn't want her name to come out either - who tries to demonstrate to this journalist that she can connect via Bluetooth with a supposed chip inoculated with the vaccine. "We are the resistance and we will liberate France from the politicians and the media, who hide the truth about covid from us", argues a friend of hers with The Marseillaise in the background, which is playing on a loop, and the tricolour flag in her hand.
Not all the demonstrations, however, have been led by negationists. Today, in Paris alone, four demonstrations have been held, one of which was called by the yellow vests. Some protests have even received the support of different political representatives. The candidate of France Insoumise, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, for example, called to demonstrate against the "disproportionate curtailment of freedoms", but asked to take a distance from those who compare the health passport to a dictatorship. On the other side of the political spectrum, far-right leader Marine Le Pen, while trying to stay out of the controversy, is also opposed to it and voted against it. And, today, one of the most crowded demonstrations was called in front of the Ecole Militaire by the leader of The Patriots, a splinter of the lepenist National Rally party. "I don't care who organizes it, I'm not left-wing or right-wing, I do what my conscience and my heart tells me to do, I'm free", replies Mélodie Millot, who presents herself as a spiritual activist. For its part, for the moment, the French government pretends it is "a minority".