February 15, 2022 - 7:00am

The French government rescinded the vaccine passports of up to five million of its people today, effectively banning them from much of French society. 

From 15 February, French citizens must have received a booster jab within four months of their second dose in order to access the vaccine pass, replacing the earlier deadline of seven months. 

This means that unless they have recovered from Covid within the last four months, the passes of several million unboosted people will expire, leaving them completely excluded from bars, restaurants, cinemas and other public venues.

French government spokesman Gabriel Attal estimated that this change will affect “between three and five million French people”, with just over half of the entire French population triple-jabbed. The new rule also applies to any tourists visiting France. 

They will join the estimated four million unvaccinated French adults who have been banned from public venues since 24 January, when the French health pass was replaced by a vaccine pass.

The French government’s campaign against the unvaccinated has been one of the most draconian in Europe, with Emmanuel Macron notoriously vowing on the 4th January to “emmerder [piss off]” those who haven’t taken the jab by “limiting as much as possible their access to social life”. 

France had already imposed a harsh array of restrictions in response to the Omicron wave in late December. Mask mandates were introduced in city centres, remote working was made compulsory when possible and indoor gatherings were limited to 2,000 people. 

This stance provoked fierce resistance from France’s small unvaccinated minority. Most recently over the weekend, police fired tear gas at a gilets jaunes-style protest in Paris who had formed a Canadian trucker–inspired “Freedom Convoy”.

Covid has also become embroiled with the approaching presidential election. Éric Zemmour condemned Macron’s “emmerder” remarks as “a political coup” in January, while the socialist candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon gave his backing to the Paris convoy protest over the weekend. 

Yesterday a group of 20 French senators also signed an open letter calling for a complete end to vaccine passports, calling them a “political measure hidden behind a health pretext”. 

However, daily Covid cases have fallen from over half a million to below 200,000, and the number of people in hospital has also begun to fall for the first time since October. As a result the government’s rhetoric has begun to soften. Nightclubs are set to reopen in France tomorrow, and Attal suggested last week that the vaccine pass might be scrapped by late March or early April.