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Surprised by the scale of the demonstrations against the health pass on the weekend of July 17 and 18, the government is trying to clear the land in the face of part of the opposition which intends to take advantage of popular discontent with a view to 2022.
Will the anti-vaccination and anti-health pass demonstrations follow the same path as those of the yellow vests? This is what the government fears, which has been trying since the start of the week to convince the hesitant by adding new benefits to vaccination day after day.
Latest example, Wednesday, July 21, the day the health pass in cultural places came into effect: the Prime Minister, Jean Castex, announced at 1 p.m. on TF1 that vaccinated people will no longer have the obligation to isolate themselves if they are in contact.
An announcement which illustrates the government’s desire to release ballast for the vaccinated and which adds in particular to the exemption from the health pass for minors during the summer and to the validation of the pass now granted one week after the injection of the second dose instead of two.
But the most spectacular measure concerns the masks. The decree implementing the extension of the health pass to July 21 ends the obligation to wear a mask in closed places, access to which will be subject to the presentation of proof of vaccination or a test. negative less than 48 hours.
>> To read: Covid-19 in France: vaccinations but no health pass at school
“Where there is the” anti-Covid-19 health pass, people “will be able to remove the mask”, “except against the orders of the prefects in the departments depending on the epidemic situation,” said Tuesday, July 20 on RTL, the Minister of Health, Olivier Véran. According to him, the mask is no longer imposed because the health pass implies “that we are sure that all the people who return are completely vaccinated or have a very recent test which is negative”.
“A bad idea”, retorts epidemiologist Dominique Costagliola, interviewed Tuesday morning on France Inter. According to her, it should rather “have belt and suspenders to try to fight this epidemic, and not remove certain measures when we put others in place”.
“A dynamic that we did not expect”
Between the precautionary principle and political calculation, the Prime Minister seems to have chosen his camp. Everything must be done to appease the country and limit as much as possible the sources of discontent likely to feed the ranks of the demonstrations against the vaccination and the health pass.
Because it is an understatement to say that the government was surprised by the scale of the mobilizations last weekend. On Saturday July 17, more than 110,000 people across France, including 20,000 in Paris, demonstrated against the vaccination obligation for caregivers and the expansion of the health pass. That is much more than the 20,000 to 40,000 demonstrators expected by the government.
“We went from 15,000 people on July 14 to almost ten times more three days later. There is a dynamic that we did not expect,” confirms an adviser to the executive, contacted by France 24.
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Especially since a note from territorial intelligence, revealed by Le Parisien and BFM TV, Monday, July 19, warns against an evolution of the yellow vests type movement.
“Like what happened during the yellow vests crisis, the longer the conflict lasts, the greater the risk that the most determined and radicalized will manage to take control”, we can read in this report. written after the protests last weekend.
Beyond the importance of mobilization, it is also the modus operandi that awakened the bad memory of the yellow vests. As in the fall of 2018, calls for demonstrations were mainly launched on social networks, sometimes even emanating from former figures of the movement opposed to the carbon tax, like Jacline Mouraud, who appeared at the head of the procession on Saturday. Parisian.
If the territorial intelligence raises the “diversity of the profile of the demonstrators in the processions”, they warn: these people not used to marching could “lose control of the processions for the benefit of extreme groups which are often very well organized”.
“A match can blow up society. Some people want the Revolution”
The government therefore takes this movement very seriously. Especially since five vaccination centers were attacked last week, including one burned down, and death threats were sent to several deputies.
“We are particularly vigilant. There is a certain form of radicalization, with actions taken, which is very worrying,” admits the same adviser to the executive, contacted by France 24.
The deputy La République en Marche for Hérault, Patrick Vignal, received threats in an e-mail sent by a person posing as a “soldier”. “Myself armed, I would not hesitate to do what any good defender of the Nation must do to put an end to these laws, because we would have no other solutions if this continues”, writes the author anonymous message, which claims to have made a “list of many deputies” and brandishes the threat to “put a price” on the head of Emmanuel Macron and several ministers.
“We unfortunately live in a France on the brink of chaos and burn-out. We have to be careful. A match can explode society. Some want the Revolution,” says Patrick Vignal, contacted by France 24.
The LREM deputy is particularly angry with politicians who try to take advantage of this discontent by fueling fear and mistrust. His former colleague in the majority group, the deputy for Bas-Rhin Martine Wonner, now unregistered, notably called last Saturday to “invade the parliamentary offices”.
“She and people like Florian Philippot or Nicolas Dupont-Aignan [tous les trois étaient en tête du cortège parisien le 17 juillet, NDLR] are dangerous because they misinform the French, continues Patrick Vignal. They don’t realize that words have meaning and that they risk setting the country on fire. “