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France began enforcing its vaccine pass program for restaurants and cafes on Monday, meaning anyone hoping to sit down for a meal must show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.
Video posted on social media showed Paris police patrolling the city asking people for proof of their vaccination status. The footage shows police officers walking through tables of diners outside, approaching seated diners, and asking them to produce their Covid-19 health passes. Some of the diners show the officers their phones, presumably showing their digital health passes containing a QR code.
“The first checks of #Police started as a preventive measure at #Paris in cafes and restaurants where the #PassSanitaire is mandatory as of today,” reads a translation of a Monday tweet from Reuters journalist Antony Paone.
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
A vaccination card or negative COVID-19 test is now required for cafes, restaurants, long-distance travel, and non-emergency treatment at a hospital in France. However, the new vaccine mandate was reportedly ignored by many restaurants on Monday. The health passes were already mandatory for movie theaters, concert halls, sports arenas, large theme parks, and other large-capacity venues.
Those who do not comply and enter an establishment where proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 as required will face a fine of 135 euros, the equivalent of about $158.
President Emmanuel Macron announced the rule last month as part of a government plan to push more people to get the vaccine. The announcement prompted France’s vaccination rate to rise but also igniting protests against the mandate.
Most of the current cases in France are of the very contagious delta variant. As of Monday, more than 36 million people in France, over 54% of the French population, have been fully vaccinated.
For the last month, thousands of protesters have gathered to march in the streets of Paris and other major French cities including Marseille, Nice, and Lille in opposition to the Covid-19 health passes. Some protesters in Paris carried signs reading, “Our freedoms are dying” and “Vaccine: Don’t touch our kids.”
According to the French Interior Ministry, 237,000 protesters took to the streets across the country, and 17,000 marched in Paris alone.
In the U.S., President Biden has not implemented any such vaccine mandate or health pass except for federal employees and contractors, who are now required to get the jab. New York City and California also require government workers to be vaccinated or be regularly tested for the virus.
Major companies have also led the way on vaccine mandates, with behemoths like Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Delta airlines also mandating vaccination for their employees.
Last month, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said that there will be no federal mandate for Americans to get a coronavirus vaccine.
On Monday, GOP senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Kevin Cramer (R-ND) introduced a bill that would ban federal mask and vaccine mandates.