France Approves COVID-19 Vaccine Pass Law, Joins Other EU Countries With COVID Fines and Mandates 
protest fine
Tens of thousands of people protested against COVID-19 vaccine passes across France

France’s newest measure to tackle COVID-19 – requiring a certificate of vaccination at public places such as restaurants, cafes, cinemas, and long-distance trains – was approved by its parliament on Sunday

With lawmakers in the lower house of parliament voting 215 to 58 in favour, the law is set to be enforced in coming days.

President Emmanuel Macron told Le Parisien paper in an interview this month that he wanted to “piss off” unvaccinated people by making their lives so complicated they would end up getting the COVID vaccine. 

“The unvaccinated, I really want to piss them off. And so we’re going to continue doing so until the end. That’s the strategy,” said Macron.

Currently, unvaccinated people can enter these places with recent proof of a negative COVID-19 test

The new law is part of a string of mandates that have been implemented across the European Union (EU) in an effort to quell the rise in cases. Greece, Italy, and Austria have begun to implement fines or mandatory vaccinations for adults. 

France is experiencing its fifth COVID-19 wave, with daily cases hitting record highs of over 300,000. However, the number of serious hospitalizations is much lower than compared to the first wave in March and April 2020. 

Unvaccinated Greeks to pay monthly fines

Individuals 60 and over will be fined if they do not receive their COVID vaccination in Greece.

Greeks over the age of 60 who have not yet scheduled an appointment to get their first jab against COVID-19 will be fined every month, starting on Monday, o boost lagging vaccination rates and reduce pressure on healthcare in Greece.  

The monthly fine will be 50 euros ($57) in January, but will rise to 100 euros ($115) in subsequent months.

Speaking on Greece-based Skai Television, Health Ministry General Secretary Marios Themistocleous said there would be no extension to the rule for those over 60: “Whoever does not get vaccinated will pay the fine every month,” he said.

This decision follows a rise in cases as Omicron sweeps through Greece, with 20,409 new cases reported in the last 24 hours

Authorities have also decided to extend other COVID-19 measures, including midnight curfew for bars, restaurants and cafes; no music at venus; and mandatory high-protection masks at supermarkets and on public transport until 23 January. 

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told seniors that the simplest way to avoid the fine is to get vaccinated. Greek authorities say the non-vaccinated remain at high risk for hospitalization from coronavirus.

Some 90% of COVID-19 related deaths have been among people 60 and above, while 70% of those hospitalized from the virus are over 60, and of those 80% are unvaccinated. 

Over 50 fined in Italy without booster shot 

Italy is implementing a similar fine with its population – people 50 and over could be fined 100 euros ($115) if they fail to get their booster shot, according to the country’s latest COVID restrictions.

The government’s 5 January decree now requires people over 50 to have a ‘super green pass’ health certificate showing that they are either vaccinated or recently recovered from COVID, in order to enter the workplace. Anyone in this age group, employed or not, is also at risk of being fined 100 euros if they do not get vaccinated by 1 February. 

In addition, those who do not get their booster shot also could face a 100 euro fine.  

“We are working in particular on the age groups that are most at risk of being hospitalized,” said Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi. 

This new mandate applies to anyone currently 50 or over living in Italy, or anyone due to turn 50 by 15 June. 

The fines will be collected by Italy’s Agenzie delle Entrate (Inland Revenue-Recovery Agency). 

People notified they are in violation will have ten days to communicate to their local health office, the reason for their vaccination status. 

COVID-19 vaccinations to become mandatory for 18 and over in Austria 

Protests in Vienna, Austria over compulsory vaccination.

Austria plans to make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory from February for Austrian residents 18 and older, the government confirmed on Sunday. 

Presenting the final version of a draft law at a press conference on Sunday, Chancellor Karl Nehammer sought to reassure Austrians that the vaccine works.

“It’s not about fighting the vaccinated against the unvaccinated,” but rather to underscore that “vaccination is the best guarantee that we can live together in freedom.” 

The mandate will apply to Austrian residents 18 and older, with exemptions for pregnant women and people who cannot receive the vaccine due to medical reasons. 

While the law will take effect 1 February, police checks won’t be carried out until 15 March. Unvaccinated people then face a penalty of around 600 euros (US $684) and up to 3600 euros (US $4105). 

Those noncompliant with the mandate will be fined up to four times a year; however, the fine will be dropped if the recipient is vaccinated within two weeks of receiving the penalty notice.

Though the Austrian parliament still has to vote on Thursday on the vaccination mandate, the law is expected to pass. Around 74% of Austria’s population is vaccinated against COVID. 

Image Credits: akilligundem/Twitter, John Perivolaris/Flickr, Ama Bushman/Twitter.

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