France

The French are Rebelling Against Petty Covid Mask Rules

Daily Sceptic reader Chris Bullick has travelled to France this week and found a population moving on from the petty pandemic rules whether their Government wants them to or not.

Well, that much agonised over third jab was a waste of time. St. Pancras railway station was a complete zoo. The French border official scanned my passport in the usual insouciant way and waved me through. The other three members of our party did however have their documents scrutinised. I was less than delighted when they suggested that they hadn’t bothered as I “just looked way too old to be unvaccinated”.

They certainly get you in the mood at St. Pancras. With a train for Paris and one for Amsterdam both leaving at six on a Friday evening, the place was slammed. There was a 200 metre queue for the Eurostar down the station concourse. This had a ‘mask checkpoint’ 100 metres in, where Eurostar staff were commanding their passengers to don masks. Which of course everyone sheepishly did – except for me. I was having none of it. “Tell me it’s a legal requirement,” I said, as all the other unmasked passengers heading elsewhere rushed past. “It’s a Eurostar requirement,” they repeated. “But not a legal requirement,” I stated. “So I shan‘t be wearing one,” and walked on unmolested.

However, the passenger behind me made a mis-step. “I’m sorry, I don’t have a mask,” he shamefully confessed. They pounced. Never apologise, never explain. Sent packing off to the shops to buy one, he returned clutching one of those Chinese paper masks currently polluting every major river in the world and costing about one pence to manufacture. To his girlfriend: “It was the last one and cost me £5.” Why do people put up with this utter charade still? If only half of them challenged it they would stop it.

France to Scrap Vaccine Passports and Mask Mandates – Well, Almost, It is France

Rules requiring people to show a COVID-19 vaccine passport to access venues and to wear a face mask indoors will be lifted in France on March 14th – 11 days time – French Prime Minister Jean Castex has said.

“The health situation is improving,” Castex told TF1 television on Thursday.

In a remarkable stroke of luck for the Government, the rules are being lifted about a month before the presidential election.

Masks will however still be required on public transport, and vaccine passes required to access elderly care homes. They couldn’t possibly let go of them entirely.

Has Macron decided the unvaccinated are adequately “pissed off” now? Has sufficient punishment been meted out to the obstinate and recalcitrant? It appears so. For now.

Freedom Convoys: French Police Use Tear Gas; New Zealand Deploys Barry Manilow; Canadian Truckers Clear Bridge But Protests Continue in Ottawa

Freedom Convoy protests continue in Canada, France and New Zealand – three countries where extreme responses to Covid have persisted for two years and where the unvaccinated are particularly targeted with restrictions.

In Canada, trucks have now cleared the Ambassador Bridge after blocking the busiest border crossing between the U.S. and Canada for nearly six days. However, protests continue in Ottawa for the third weekend in a row. MailOnline has more.

Hundreds of people waving Canadian flags and holding anti-Trudeau signs braved the snow and cold temperatures Saturday as they filled the downtown area of the, walking between massive trucks that have been parked in place for weeks, paralysing the Canadian capital. 

In Windsor, as the vehicles moved out, a handful of people who remained near the entrance of the bridge gradually grew and as of 1pm had turned into a large crowd of people who refused to leave. Police in black uniforms with yellow safety vests formed a line between the bridge and the crowd and have been steadily pushing back the demonstrators, as some shouted “shame”, “freedom” and “you’re on the wrong side”. 

Windsor Police stated on Twitter around 11am that they could begin making arrests if protesters continued to block traffic. 

“Enforcement continuing, individuals who are located within the demonstration area are subject to arrest,” the Windsor police wrote. “People are advised to immediately vacate the area.”

While the trucks and vehicles had exited the bridge, both directions still appeared to be closed off to traffic as of Saturday afternoon.

Police descended on the scene around 8:30am Saturday, warning protesters to “act lawfully” after the Freedom Convoy truckers in Canada ignored two deadlines overnight.

The ‘Freedom Convoy’ protests, which began in Ottawa by Canadian truckers opposing a vaccinate-or-quarantine mandate for cross-border drivers, entered its 16th day on Saturday. The demonstrations are also an outpouring of fury toward Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. 

Protests spread to three border points earlier this week, including the Ambassador Bridge, North America’s busiest land border crossing where dozens of vehicles crowded the area since Monday, choking the supply chain for Detroit’s carmakers. 

UPDATE: It’s reported that protestors have returned and been seen blocking the bridge again on Saturday night.

In Paris, riot police tear-gassed diners at restaurants as protesters clashed during violent demonstrations against Covid restrictions and energy price rises. MailOnline has more.

Macron Says, “No Vaxx, No Citizenship” as France Unveils New, Stricter Vaccine Passports

We’re publishing today a piece by Josie Appleton on the introduction in France today of the beefed-up vaccine passports and how they signify the almost mystical role the vaccines have taken on during the pandemic. Josie – who is author of Toxic Sociality – Reflections on a Pandemic and Officious – Rise of the Busybody State – sees in this an undermining of medical ethics that only harms vaccination itself.

Here’s a taster:

The vaccine passport is a citizenship test for a morally and politically vacuous age. It is entirely passive – it is the simple act of consenting to a medical procedure, after which you are crowned with a civic virtue. This is a citizenship test that occurs on the level of what the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben calls “bare life”; that is, it is a question of merely biological existence, rather than a question of how a life is lived. Receiving a vaccine pass is mute; there are no words, there is no oath of allegiance to party, country or leader. You offer your body and receive a QR code in return: this is the nature of the new social contract between citizen and state. “Vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate” is the mantra for reconstituting authority and society in an age where this authority cannot be grounded on a substantial social basis.

The vaccine is being treated as a mystical state or collective substance that incorporates people into the collective body. Vaccination now is like a sacrament, a transubstantiation ritual; through the vaccine we are receiving the body of the state into our body and therefore joining the community.

One casualty in this is vaccination itself. Considered scientifically, a vaccine – as with any drug – is not a protective talisman or means for membership of a community. It is a medical product with particular qualities and uses, and particular side effects and risks. It may be useful for some groups but not others, and in some contexts but not in others. The rational use of a drug is as important as the drug itself, to ensure that it is directed towards the appropriate ends.

The ideological weaponisation of vaccines distorts these cost-benefit judgements. The vaccine is forced upon people who have little or no need of it, such as children and those with natural immunity, while ignoring those who have need of it. (The older and more vulnerable someone is, the less they are affected by vaccine passports.)

This episode is violating the very basis of health and medical ethics. Through vaccination passports and mandates, it has become acceptable to force someone to take a medical treatment, even a treatment that is not really in their medical interest. When Jean Castex boasted that the vaccine passport led to a rise in people getting their first vaccination, the interviewer pointed out “but they were forced”. Castex shrugged. In normal times, medical force is unacceptable; medical force means the Nazis. When France began vaccinating a year ago, it insisted upon consent forms and pre-vaccine interviews to ensure that people were really consenting. Now, the use of force has become entirely acceptable, it has become ethical in fact. It is the duty of the state to get people to do their duty.

Worth reading in full.

France Lifts Ban on U.K. Tourists – But Only the Vaccinated, Despite Them Having the Vast Majority of Infections

France has said it will lift its ban on U.K. tourists tomorrow after pleas from the tourism industry – but only for the vaccinated. MailOnline has more.

The ski season is back on for snow-deprived Britons as France said it will lift its ban on U.K. holidaymakers tomorrow.

Tourism Minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne said they will be allowed into the country following an outcry from struggling resorts.

Travellers who are fully vaccinated will be allowed to enter if they have evidence of a negative coronavirus test taken within 24 hours of departure.

The requirement to isolate on arrival will be scrapped.

The move was welcomed by tourist-starved resorts which had been begging President Emmanuel Macron to change his mind.

Meanwhile travel experts warned it may have come too late after doing “untold damage” to businesses.

Mr Baptiste-Lemoyne tweeted on Thursday morning “we are relaxing entry conditions”.

The Minister said the new measures would be published in an official decree on Friday, but were “immediately effective”.

People who are not vaccinated will still need a compelling reason to enter France, and must still isolate for 10 days upon arrival, the BBC notes. But why, when current infections are overwhelmingly in vaccinated people?

Worth reading in full.

Vaccinated Doctors Among 1.2 MILLION to Sign Petition to French National Assembly Protesting Vaccine Passports as Major Attack on Rule of Law

A petition signed by more than 1.2 million people, including doctors, nurses and vaccinated citizens, protesting against vaccine passports has been delivered to the National Assembly in France. A Daily Sceptic reader sent us this description:

Mr. Rodolphe Bacquet has been running a campaign protesting against the French vaccine pass. He has created a website campaign with information videos etc. and has recently appeared in a debate on a French TV news channel. This last week, he has handed a petition with just over an incredible 1.2 million signatures to the National Assembly and the Senate of the French Government. Triple-jabbed members of the French public and doctors and nurses are amongst the signatories.

Click here to watch a video of the petition being delivered and find a translated transcript below.

Martine Wonner, Deputy from Bas-Rhin (region) speaking at the Assembly on January 3rd 2022 – “This vaccine passport, tool of stigmatisation and apartheid. The French are against it and signified this in a petition that has reached more than 1.2 million signatures.”

Rodolphe Bacquet – “I am on my way to the Senate to deliver by hand to a ‘Senatrice’, the petition against the vaccine pass. Hello Madame, thank you for your time.”

Senatrice – “You are welcome, you are courageous, I think that all the French and all opinions must all be represented and it is our role to listen to everyone.”

RB – “These are the names of 1.2 million French people, these are all the signatures from last Monday, since then there has been more signatures.”

Senatrice – “Yes you are right, there are a lot of citizens like yourself and it is difficult to be heard.”

RB then enters the building and hands over a petition.

RB – “We have passed 1.2 million signatures in only 10 days, if you open the document to the first page, there’s a text addressed to our ‘elected ‘ asking them solemnly to take into account the interest of their citizens. These people write to me that they are double, triple jabbed so that they are not anti-vaxx.

Woman responds – “It goes beyond the division of vaxx and non-vaxx.”

RB – “Exactly, some media tried to reduce this petition to an anti-vaxx one but this is not it. We attack the vaccine pass.”

RB addresses a crowd – “Hello thank you, [people applaud and thank him] I would like to remind our Deputies that they are not only at the ‘service’ of a political party or general politics. This is not about politics anymore today, it is about our imminent future. We are not illegal by refusing to get vaccinated, we are within our legal rights to make a medical choice and it is this free ‘consent ‘ that we absolutely must preserve and defend in front of the National Assembly.”

RB addresses a man (Deputy Nicolas DuPont-Aignan) – “Can I give you a copy and let you give it to whom it may concern.”

Deputy Dupont – “Would you allow me to present it when I talk… [meaning unclear].”

RB – “Yes of course, and I hope that the Parliament which is the Senate and the National Assembly will open their eyes to the anti-constitutionality of this new law and the social danger that this new law represents and will stop it, and failing that then it will be up to the ‘Conseil Constitutional ‘ to take its responsibility.”

RB then delivers another copy for the Chief of the Parliamentarians.

Should the State Punish People for Their Health Choices?

Emmanuel Macron has caused some consternation by saying that he wants to “piss off” the unvaccinated. And you can understand why. Politicians – especially ones purporting to be liberal – don’t usually base their policies on the goal of “pissing off” a subset of the electorate.

Even Donald Trump chose his words more carefully. Perhaps Macron will call up his old friend to get some advice on the art of rhetoric.

Yet as Will Jones notes, Macron does deserve credit for being honest. Unlike other politicians who’ve dabbled in vaccine passports, he’s not claiming to be concerned about the ‘externality of transmission’. Rather, he wants to punish the unvaccinated until they make the ‘right’ choice.

Under proposed legislation, only the fully vaccinated (is that three or four jabs?) will qualify for the country’s new health pass. Those who present a negative test will not. Since a vaccinated person is far more likely to spread the virus than someone with a negative test, we know this law isn’t designed to stop transmission.

Of course, if it were designed to stop transmission, that wouldn’t make any more sense. The latest infection numbers show that vaccine passports have failed spectacularly in this regard.

After outlining his shrewd public health strategy of “pissing off” the unvaccinated, Macron added: “When my freedoms threaten those of others, I become someone irresponsible. Someone irresponsible is not a citizen.” Now the unvaccinated aren’t citizens? That escalated quickly…

The only justification I can imagine for Macron’s new policy is the one Andrew Neil gave in his op-ed for the Daily Mail. Since the unvaccinated are more likely to wind up in hospital, they place a greater burden on the national health service.

Yet, as I’ve pointed out before, this argument implies we should punish anyone who makes choices that lead to above-average hospital usage. For example, we could introduce obesity passports; or passports for skateboarders, rugby players or people who get drunk on a Friday night.

By Macron’s logic, obese people’s freedom to get fat threatens his freedom not to wait in line at the hospital. Are the obese also unworthy of citizenship?

More than 90% of French adults have already received the vaccine. And a lot of the rest have probably had Covid. Instead of threatening people with crass barroom talk, Macron might consider that quaint old tactic – persuasion.

Here Comes the French Variant…

Scientists at the IHU Mediterranee Infection in Marseille, France, have announced the discovery of a new variant of SARS-CoV-2, which they say has more mutations than Omicron and may be more resistant to vaccines. Firstpost has the story.

Here’s what we know so far of this new COVID-19 variant:

• Researchers say that it contains 46 mutations – even more than Omicron – which makes it more resistant to vaccines and infectious.
• Some 12 cases have been spotted so far near Marseille, with the first linked to travel to the African country Cameroon.
• Tests show the strain carries the N501Y mutation – first seen on the Alpha variant – that experts believe can make it more transmissible
• According to the scientists, it also carries the E484K mutation, which could mean that the IHU variant will be more resistant to vaccines.
• It is yet to be spotted in other countries or labelled a variant under investigation by the World Health Organisation.

The variant was discovered on December 9th, so we might have expected it to have spread a bit further and faster by now if it is going to make a big impact – Omicron, by comparison, was already on its way to world domination by this point. So this may be just one of many non-event variants.

France is currently experiencing a strong winter surge dominated by the Omicron variant and the Government is responding by tightening the vaccine passport regime.

France Tightens Covid Restrictions to Fight Fifth Wave

The French Government has imposed a series of new measures in an effort to battle the ‘fifth wave’ of the country’s Covid epidemic, which involves limiting attendance at outdoor venues to 5,000, with indoor environments only allowed to host 2,000 people. In addition, employees will be required to work from home for two-thirds of the working week if possible. The Prime Minister, Jean Castex, also announced that mandatory outdoor mask-wearing will be returned to some regions. The Times has the story.

Jean Castex, the Prime Minister, said the country needed tighter measures to cope with the fifth wave of the epidemic, although he ruled out the most stringent options on the table, such as a return of a lockdown or of a curfew.

Along with the limits on crowd capacity, which will affect competitions like the French football league, the measures will include a move to make homeworking compulsory for at least three days a week in “businesses where it is possible”.

Castex also announced the return of mandatory mask-wearing outdoors in some town and city centres and a ban on standing up at concerts. Eating standing up in bars or restaurants will be forbidden.

The prime minister said it would become illegal to remove masks in long distance trains and buses or in cinemas or theatres, ruling out the consumption of snacks and drinks during films, plays and journeys.

The announcements came with the Omicron variant arriving in France and the country registering more than 100,000 cases in a single day for the first time last week. Over the past seven days, France has reported a total of 1,050 Covid related deaths whilst 1,747 people have been admitted to intensive care after catching the virus.

Castex said hospitalisations were increasing at a “moderate rate” but added: “What we are seeing in Britain and Denmark justifies prudence and vigilance.

“We are engaged in a race against time.”

With 89.5% of French people aged over 12 years-old having received two doses of vaccination and 34.8% a booster, Castex said “we are one of the most vaccinated countries in the world and therefore one of the most protected. But we must amplify the movement”.

He said the delay between second and third doses would be reduced to three months, down from five at present, and confirmed the introduction of legislation to tighten the country’s Covid passport.

Under current rules, a vaccination certificate or a negative test is required to gain access to bars, restaurants, cafes, theatres, museums, cinemas, trains and other public places. Under the new rules, only vaccination certificates will be accepted.

He also pledged tougher penalties for false Covid passports, which are being produced on an almost industrial scale – police having uncovered more than 182,000 of them.

Worth reading in full.

France Bans Non-Essential U.K. Visitors in Response to Omicron Spread

From Saturday, France will prohibit all U.K. visitors travelling for non-essential reasons (unless they are French or E.U. citizens) in an attempt to curb the spread of the Omicron variant, which is quickly becoming the dominant strain within the country. The ban will apply to both vaccinated and unvaccinated Brits. MailOnline has more.

The French Government said no non-essential travellers from the U.K. will be allowed in from the weekend.

It is a hammer blow to those desperately hoping to be able to get away or go skiing over the festive period. 

Ollie James said online: “Based on the latest Covid news, that’s my snow holiday cancelled because the French are banning people from the U.K.”

“Infuriating for me, but I feel for the hospitality industry in the mountains who will be losing a huge amount of money now. Our chalet was £12,000 for the week.”

A French Government spokesman confirmed there will be a “requirement to have an essential reason to travel to, or come from, the U.K., both for the unvaccinated and vaccinated”.

He added: “People cannot travel for touristic or professional reasons.”

They insisted French citizens and EU nationals could still return to France from the U.K.

Delta remains the dominant variant in France, but Omicron is spreading so fast in Britain that it’s raising concerns across the Channel.

French Government Spokesman Gabriel Attal said on BFM television that tourism or business trips from Britain to France “will be limited”, though French citizens will still be able to make the journey. 

All those arriving from Britain will need to have a negative virus test less than 24 hours old, and to test again upon arrival and isolate “in a place they choose” for at least 48 hours pending the result, Attal said.

Paul Charles, Chief Executive of Travel Consultancy the PC Agency, said: “Blanket country measures are a damaging backwards step and never work. Omicron is already in France and other EU countries.

“Why should the millions boosted be treated the same way as those unvaccinated, and prevented from entry?”

Health minister Gillian Keegan was asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme for her reaction to the French travel restrictions.

She said: “Well, actually, my first thought is ‘I’m glad that I cancelled my trip to France’, because that’s where I was supposed to go for Christmas.”

“But, of course, every Government is dealing with Omicron, every Government has to make their decisions and has their response to it, you know. It is obviously going to alter people’s plans, which is very unfortunate.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said he has spoken to his equivalent in the French government, Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, and agreed that hauliers will be exempt from the new restrictions.

A Spokesman for ferry operator Brittany Ferries said: ‘These new measures are a hammer blow to our Christmas season.”

Worth reading in full.