Health Pass-ifists and Protestors
Saturday while I was sunbathing on the beach and watching a Jack Russell Terrier chase a ball thrown into the water or into the air, catch it with amazing agility in his mouth and bring it back to whomever had tossed it, even if a stranger…I heard the rumble and horns of a demonstration along the Promenade des Anglais. I wanted to run to see it, but running on the “galets” (the Nice beach pebbles) is not something one aspires to do (unless you’re three years-old and have feet like rubber balls), so instead I grabbed my styrofoam floating noodle and fled for the waves. From the rocking of the cool aqua water, I could hear the “manif” permeate the summer air.
More than 6,500 demonstrators took to the streets of Nice to denounce the new health pass and the vaccination obligations. Starting off at Place Garibaldi, the demonstrators worked their way to the Promenade des Anglais while another gathering had already formed on Place Masséna. Among them were about 30 “pompiers” (firefighters) from the region who are among the professionals concerned by the vaccination obligation deadline of September 15th, not at all ready to receive an anti-covid injection.
Protesters met in Antibes, as well, demanding freedom and denouncing the government health measures which they believe are dividing the population. The estimate is that at least 38,000 people demonstrated on Saturday in Southeast France against mandatory vaccination, the generalization of the health pass and the government’s actions. The demonstrations had brought together a total of 161,000 people all over France, including 11,000 in Paris. In Montpellier, the demonstration brought together 10,000 people, according to the latest report from the prefecture.
The protests come as a result of the French parliament approving a law requiring a Covid health pass in order to access restaurants, bars, trains and planes from the beginning of this month. Up till now, all venues accommodating more than 50 people require proof of vaccination or a recent negative Covid-19 test, including museums, cinemas and swimming pools. This new regulation requires special passes for all restaurants (excluding terraces), shopping malls, hospitals and retirement homes, domestic travel (except for public transit such as the Métro, RER, buses and tramways) and mandating vaccinations for all health workers to be vaccinated no later than September 15th or they risk losing their jobs. For the moment, the health pass applies to adults, but as of September 30th, 12 years-old and older will be obligated as well.
To get the pass, you must have proof of being fully vaccinated, or recently tested negative, or recently recovered from the virus. For now, they’ve set their sights on November 15th as an end date for the requirements, depending on the status of the virus. It’s all scheduled to start August 9th…if it fully passes.
Discussing the politics of the pandemic with friends and family is worse than the four years we had of discussing the politics of Donald Trump. The divisiveness is maddening. I’m both fascinated and fed up by it. I want it to go away, not just the virus, but the fear associated with it. I am nowhere near as frightened by the virus itself as by the fears it creates and decisions we make based on those fears.
I completely understand the viewpoint of the protestors. While I’ve been vaccinated and did so because I assessed that the risk of the vaccine itself is outweighed by the risk of the virus, I’m not quick to be in favor of such government control to the point of forcing the vaccination upon someone who doesn’t want to put it in their body. Asking for proof of a negative test is far different than forcing someone to be injected and if they don’t comply, risk losing their job and their livelihood.
I also don’t see how they are going to police this in the way they imagine, by turning restaurateurs, shopkeepers and the like into the long arm of the law. As I sit in a café in sunny Nice, surrounded by tourists enjoying being in the open and fresh air without a mask, I ponder how on earth they expect to “card” every diner who decides to sit inside instead. And I know that even those given the responsibility for reading the QR code on a smart phone or a certificate on paper won’t really look that closely at the details in the interest of saving time to process everyone, or let things slide for their own fear of having to reject someone!
I also am concerned for the businesses that have finally come back to life and then will have to deal with yet another restriction that hinders their own healthy economy. Shouldn’t they have a choice to accept or reject the health pass, as long as it’s posted so those who patronize them have a choice, too? And meanwhile, we’re being divided once again, this time between the vaccinated and the non-vaccinated, the pro-government intervention and those against it.
Don’t assume that the protestors are right wing or idiots. Au contraire! In fact, the Senate vote, dominated by Les Républicains, the right-wing opposition, is who voted 199 to 123 for the bill which provided for these compulsory vaccinations and extension of the health pass. It’s the right side of politics that is running that show.
From what I see, the protestors are mostly the young who don’t have the same fears as those of us who are older or have underlying health issues that raise the odds of getting the virus. They have a more philosophical and perhaps idealistic view of how they want their lives to be…and quite honestly, thank goodness for that. We need our youth to pave the way for a better way of living, and in this case, that ideal has to do with the infringement of civil liberties and basic rights.
Call me an idealist, or a libertarian or an idiot like the protestors, but for whatever reason, I don’t harbor fear of the virus. I just deal with it as I would any danger—like crossing a busy street and looking both ways. I do what I have to do to reduce my own risk. It’s true that if I wasn’t so confident in my own good health, I might not be so bold. Instead, I just wouldn’t take the risk of being out and about with people I don’t know and I’d be sure to be vaccinated to reduce my own risk of catching the virus.
Yes, I know your argument. Those un-vaccinated are seen by and large as the perpetrators of the virus and risking the lives of others. The truth is they risk their own lives much more than the lives of those who have been vaccinated. So, get vaccinated if you want. That’s your choice. Either way, it would be your choice and not that of the government’s.
I went back to the beach on Sunday to catch some rays, as these few hours in the sun at the surf is what I do to make the most out of this summer, given the situation with Covid-19 and our busy schedules with clients. Being on the beach watching the shenanigans that go on there with tourists from all over the world is most amusing and where it feels as if Covid-19 doesn’t exist at all.
Sunday it was very windy. The waves were tremendous, preventing most people from entering the water at all (as it did me). As the spray came closer to those of us close to the water’s edge, I had to keep moving my chair back lest I get soaked. In light of it all, I forgot about the Delta variant, the new regulations and the protests. I tuned into some romantic Spanish guitar on Spotify, opened David Downie’s new book on my Kindle app, Red Riviera, to read about murder on the Italian Riviera and thought about how we will have to find our havens, like this beach, where we can feel free and safe…until they decide you can’t go to the beach, either, without the vaccine!
Now, that’s when I get off my chair at the beach to protest, too!
A la prochaine…
The Adrian Leeds Group®
P.S. If you are considering a property purchase in Nice, don’t do it lightly. Let us help you make the smartest decisions to ensure you make the best investment you can. We can also expertly advise you how best to create a profitable rental. Contact us to learn more.
Will make it short, well said Adrain, well said.
Love your HGTV International House Hunting.
Daniel from Atlanta Georgia, USA.
I’m ambivalent about it.
It’s a public emergency. A public health problem. When I went to school, I had to have shots to protect the other kids. No problem.
Wear masks again? OK.
Whatever those above me think will help.
One thing I’m dead set against is more lockdowns- like Australia, where some cities are in their 5th lockdown, and where only 15% are vaccinated.
Getting vaccinated is much more preferable to more lockdowns, which are killing our businesses.
So, I can live with both the French way, and the American way (where forced vacations are absolutely out of the question).
A friend had a better idea. Offer $100 to everyone who gets vaccinated. France could have tried that first.
We do need for more to get vaccinated in the US, where it’s just about half vaccinated. But, maybe 60% or higher for adults. And, higher still for older.
When it’s a matter of life or death for its citizens, I give the government more leeway.
I’m pretty much a conformist about public matters like this. I remember when motorcyclists didn’t want to wear helmets, until they were required to. They said it was an infringement against their personal freedom. Same with seat belts. I have friends who refused for years.
Whatever is decided is OK by me, EXCEPT lockdowns. That affects people’s mental health, and kills businesses. Poor, poor, poor Australia. 😟🥲
(I have dear friends in Melbourne, Australia— in their 5th lockdown!! 🥲🥲)
I’m glad I’m not the one who has to set Covid policy. Very difficult to know the right thing to do. Damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.
On a happier note, one expert says this should all be over by October— one way or another. He thinks the delta variant will have run its course thru society by then, and numbers should start falling.
Sure hope so!
But, no more lockdowns!!
Your comment is much like my sentiments. Thank you. It’s not just about me, me, me. I believe that the Delta variant is already starting to wane in England, so hopefully this will be the case soon, in the US and other parts of the world.
Ditto! And people need to get the shot. Smallpox was mandatory! This is nothing to do with freedom. Putting others at risk is unacceptable.
Unless we can all become immune, we may have smarter and smarter variants to deal with ad infinitum.
We don’t have polio etc because of vaccines. The misinformation about vaccines is rampant. Everyone that I know who received a vaccine is healthy and alive. But we have two vaccine-resistant friends who have died from Covid. Misinformation among the young should not substitute for science.
Always love reading your insights. And while I might be a little jealous, I love knowing how much you enjoy France. Stay safe and well!
First, I will say that I agree the vaccine passports are very problematic. But to say that unvaccinated are just risking themselves I think is incorrect. My one comment is what I have heard from many research professionals: the reason the virus mutates is because it finds new hosts. The more hosts, the easier to spread and the easier to mutate. I am summarizing this generally so don’t kill the messenger. This is what has happened with Covid- many unvaccinated people are the reason it has mutated because it finds numerous new hosts. If this is true, it isn’t just their own health they risk, but facilitating the continuation of this pandemic through mutation. There now is another mutation we are seeing in the US – Lambda?? There is still a lot we don’t know. I think it is a bit too cavalier to dismiss the unvaccinated as not affecting the rest of us although there is an extreme need to find less problematic solutions.
I loved your portrait by Rosemary F. in today’s nouvelettre. And as usual your description of the places and the house made me think I was there myself.
Loved your newsletter today! We just returned the other day from Paris and had visited Le Samarataine and Musee Carnavalet so it was fun to hear your take on them! Rosemary is quite the young lady… And I love Oliver Gee! Do you know of Vero? She has a group called “France With Vero”. She does great virtual video tours all over France!
Thank you. Yes, Vero is a good friend. She was our guest speaker for Apres-Midi last December.
Just want to wish you many blessings…L’Shanah Tovah!
Today’s article on the haute Marais was one of the best. I just got back from Paris but didn’t spend anytime in your part of town – what a pity. I did have coffee with a mutual friend, Susan Loomis! Should I ever venture outside the 6th/7th as a place to stay, (maybe after 40 years it’s about time!), can you recommend hotels, apartments to rent in your area? It looks exactly like what I want. A bientot.
We went to Chez Omar in 2019. Great place! I learned about it from your book about Paris restaurants, which I still refer to. Café Charlot, also wonderful. Everyone who stays in or near the 3rd arrondissement should spend some time relaxing in the Square du Temple.
Happy birthday, Adrian, you Libra you! Looks like you enjoy celebrating it a lot with friends at that wonderful Chez Omar. Loved the picture of you and your friend in kindergarten. The exhibitions you are now seeing this fall in Paris made me sick with envy that I won’t see them–but glad you did and shared about them. Thank you. Bises. Judiith Oringer
Hi Adrian, Love your Paris and Nice blogs and have been a reader for many years. We hoped to go to Nice in 2020, but you know how that went. Maybe in 2022! Also love your House Hunters programs, and I have a question about a recent episode. It was with Amber Johns. We were in Naples, Italy, in September 2019, and took a food tour with a young attorney and her mother from the US West Coast. I am almost positive it was Amber. At the end of our tour, a local dignitary and his entourage came rolling into the square in their limos. The young attorney ran over to introduce herself to the man — she was very out-going and confident. I’d love to know if Amber was the young woman we were with. I thought we had a picture of her, but neither my husband nor I can find it. If you run into Amber, please let me know if she was on that food tour — there were only 4 of us that day. Thank you so much — this has been bugging me since your show was on TV! Lynn
Hello lynn, Thank you! We’ve checked with Amber and it wasn’t her that you saw in Naples – it must have been her twin LOL.
Mia Farrow has always been unstable. Remember when she cut off her hair because Sinatra left her? And I wish people will not keeping saying Mia and woody were married. They didn’t live together.