European vaccine passes reveal some pockets of resistance – .

European vaccine passes reveal some pockets of resistance – .

VERONA, ITALY – Cries of “Freedom! Echoed in the streets and squares of Italy and France as thousands of people protest against plans to require vaccination cards for normal social activities, such as dining inside restaurants, visit museums or applaud in sports stadiums.

The leaders of the two countries see the cards, nicknamed the “green pass” in Italy and the “health pass” in France, as necessary to increase vaccination rates and convince the undecided.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi compared the anti-vaccination message from some political leaders to “a call to die”.

The looming requirement is working, with demands for vaccination booming in both countries.

Yet there are pockets of resistance from those who see it as a violation of civil liberties or who are concerned about vaccine safety. Around 80,000 people demonstrated in Italian cities last weekend, while thousands marched in Paris over the last three weekends, sometimes clashing with police.

European countries in general have made progress in their vaccination rates in recent months, with or without incentives. No country has made gunfire compulsory, and campaigns to persuade the undecided are a patchwork.

Denmark was the first to pass the vaccine with little resistance. Belgium will require a vaccination certificate to attend outdoor events with more than 1,500 people by mid-August and indoor events by September. Germany and Britain have so far resisted a comprehensive approach, while vaccinations are so popular in Spain that the incentives are not deemed necessary.

In France and Italy, protests against vaccine passes or virus restrictions in general are bringing together otherwise unlikely allies, often from political extremes. These include far-right parties, activists for economic justice, families with young children, those who oppose vaccines and those who fear them.

Many say vaccine pass requirements are a source of inequality that will further divide society, and they draw difficult historical parallels.

“We are creating great inequality between citizens,” said one protester in Verona, who identified himself only as Simone because he said he feared for his livelihood. “We will have first-class citizens, who will be able to access public services, theater, social life, and second-class citizens, who will not. This thing led to apartheid and the Holocaust. “

Some protesters in Italy and France wore yellow Stars of David, like the ones the Nazis forced Jews to wear during World War II.

Holocaust survivors call the comparison a distortion of history.

“These are madness, gestures of bad taste that intersect with ignorance,” said Liliana Segre, a 90-year-old Holocaust survivor and Italian senator for life. “It is such a time of ignorance, of violence that is no longer even repressed, that has become ripe for these distortions. “

Similar comparisons at protests in Britain have been widely condemned. One of the most prominent anti-containment activists, Piers Corbyn, brother of former Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn, was arrested earlier this year after distributing a leaflet making the comparison, describing the concentration camp in ‘Auschwitz.

The French health passport is mandatory in museums, cinemas and tourist sites, and comes into force for restaurants and trains on August 9. To get it, people must be fully immunized, have a recent negative test, or have proof that they have recently recovered from COVID-19[FEMININE[FEMININE

Italy’s requirements are less stringent. Only one dose of vaccine is required, and it applies to outdoor dining, cinemas, stadiums, museums and other gathering places starting August 6. The extension of the requirement to long-distance transport is being considered. A negative test within 48 hours or evidence of recovery from the virus within the past six months also provides access.

Demand for vaccines in Italy has increased by up to 200% in some areas after the government announced the Green Pass, according to the country’s special commissioner for vaccinations.

In France, nearly 5 million received a first dose and more than 6 million received a second dose within two weeks after President Emmanuel Macron announced that the virus would be spread to restaurants and many other public places. Before that, the demand for vaccination had been declining for weeks.

15% of Italians remain resistant to the vaccine’s message: 7% identify as undecided and 8% as anti-vaccine, according to a SWG survey. The survey of 800 adults, conducted July 21-23, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

The main reasons for hesitating or refusing to be vaccinated, cited by more than half of those surveyed, are fears of serious side effects and fears that vaccines have not been adequately tested. 25% said they did not trust doctors, 12% said they had no fear of the virus and 8% denied its existence.

This leaves certain segments of the population difficult to penetrate.

Around 2 million Italians over 60 are still not vaccinated, although they were given priority in the spring. Thousands of people remain unprotected in Lombardy alone, the epicenter of the epidemic in Italy.

The city of Milan sends mobile vans with vaccines and other supplies to a different neighborhood every day. They cater to the reluctant with leaflets and social media posts, vaccinating 100-150 people per day with the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine.

Rosi De Filippis, 68, was shot after being pressured by a girl.

“In any case, it has kind of become mandatory,” said De Filippis. “At the beginning, we didn’t know everything we know today. So I decided to go ahead. “

Italian and French companies reluctantly accept the passes, worrying about how private companies can enforce public policy. The Danish experience suggests that compliance becomes easier over time – and vaccination rates increase.

“The first two months were not good,” recalls Sune Helmgaard, whose restaurant in Copenhagen serves hearty classic Danish dishes. In the spring, vaccination rates were still low and clients could not always get tested on time.

But with over 80% of eligible Danes having received at least one injection and over 60% fully vaccinated, Helmgaard’s business has returned to pre-pandemic levels.

“People feel more secure,” he said, “so the Danes are very happy to show their passes. “


Associated Press journalists across Europe contributed.


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