Dutch protest against COVID-19 vaccine pass to enter bars, restaurants
THE HAGUE, Sept 25 (Reuters) – Hundreds of protesters marched against the introduction of a “corona pass” in the Netherlands on Saturday, as proof of COVID-19 vaccination became compulsory to get into bars, restaurants, theatres and other venues.
Hours after the requirement to show the pass or a recent negative coronavirus test took effect, the government of caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte sacked a cabinet minister who had publicly questioned the measure.
Rutte’s office said Deputy Economic Affairs Minister Mona Keijzer had been dismissed because her comments went against cabinet policy on an issue “of such importance and weight”.
The launch of the vaccination pass coincided with the lifting of almost all social distancing measures in the country, where 72% of the population has received at least one vaccine dose.
While face masks will still be mandatory on public transport, students and teachers will no longer have to wear masks in schools, and a rule for 1.5-metre (nearly 5 feet) distancing in public places was also scrapped.
Carrying banners and placards as techno music played over mobile loudspeakers, several hundred protesters opposed to the pass weaved their way through the streets of the Dutch government capital, The Hague.
Some of the placards compared the COVID-19 restrictions to measures imposed by repressive governments. “Medical Apartheid. Stop vaccine passports,” one sign read.
Most Dutch people support the so-called corona pass, which also faced opposition when introduced in other European countries such as Italy and France, and most of the criticism has come from the hospitality sector.
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French President Emmanuel Macron Says Someone Who Refuses COVID Vaccine Is ‘Not a Citizen’
French president Macron’s desire to ‘piss off’ unvaccinated individuals triggers outrage
French President Emmanuel Macron faced significant criticism for his comments claiming that he would like to “piss off” unvaccinated individuals.
Macron spoke candidly during an interview with French newspaper Le Parisien, during which he said that he wanted to make life difficult for individuals who have not received a COVID-19 vaccine. The French “sanitary pass” has prompted a number of protests and stiff opposition while the country nears 75% full vaccination.
“I really want to piss them off, and we’ll carry on doing this – to the end,” Macron said three months ahead of a presidential election. “I won’t send [unvaccinated people] to prison, so we need to tell them, from 15 January, you will no longer be able to go to the restaurant. You will no longer be able to go for a coffee, you will no longer be able to go to the theatre. You will no longer be able to go to the cinema.”
The French Parliament heard Macron’s comments during a debate over his proposed bill to tighten restrictions for unvaccinated individuals, leading to a swift and strong uproar in response.
His opponents have labeled the comments “unworthy” of a president.
“Even if one doesn’t share their choice, they have broken none of our country’s laws,” Marine Le Pen, Macron’s chief opponent in the upcoming election, told reporters late Tuesday. “He is continuing his policy of division, of pitting the French against one another.”
She later tweeted “A president shouldn’t say that…Emmanuel Macron is unworthy of his office.”
Leftist politician Jean-Luc Melanchon described the remarks as an “astonishing confession,” according to the BBC.
But Macron’s allies have defended the comments, with Stéphane Séjourné, a member of the European Parliament, arguing on Twitter that unvaccinated individuals have “bothered” the French by “forcing the rest of the population to endure restrictions.”
Debate over Macron’s bill continue into Wednesday as opponents still seek to delay its passage. Some of his supporters claimed to have received death threats because they are backing the legislation, The New York Times reported.
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