Vietnamese in Europe call 'vaccine passport' key to normalcy

By Thanh Tam   August 18, 2021 | 07:37 pm PT
Vietnamese in Europe call 'vaccine passport' key to normalcy
Personnel at the Eiffel Tower check other people's health passes, Paris, France, July 21, 2021. Photo by AFP
Minh Phuong believes the "vaccine passport" scheme in France and many other countries would be key to unlocking a normal life amid the pandemic.

"I support this policy because it prevents further lockdowns. For now I have yet to encounter any difficulties regarding the new policy," said Phuong, a Vietnamese expat in Paris.

France has so far recorded over 6.4 million Covid-19 cases and over 112,000 deaths ever since the coronavirus swept the globe. The country began its Covid-19 vaccination program in December last year, and about 68 percent of its 65 million population has received at least one shot, and 57 percent two.

Starting Aug. 9, people in France would need to provide health passes to enter restaurants, coffee shops or travel on trains across provinces. It is part of President Emmanuel Macron's plan to control the coronavirus and encourage vaccination.

Health passes are created with a QR code and are provided to those who have either been fully vaccinated, tested negative for the coronavirus within the last 72 hours or recovered from Covid-19.

French Minister of Health Olivier Véran said these health passes, along with France's vaccination campaign, would help the country avoid further curfews and lockdowns.

Previously, starting July 21, France had required health passes at cultural sites like movie theaters and museums. The decision has been met with resistance from certain sections of the population, resulting in protests over the past several weeks.

Some said the policy was taking away their freedom, to which Macron said "freedom comes along with responsibility," indicating freedom would mean nothing if infections are spread among the community.

For Phuong, using the passport is easy. Like many others, she feels happy to see how life is getting back to normal, following months of lockdowns and other social distancing measures.

"I have been fully vaccinated with two Pfizer shots," she said.

In Italy, Covid-19 vaccine passports are also being rolled out to help return life to normal. Starting Aug. 6, people in Italy would need to show "green certificates" before entering restaurants, museums, gyms and theaters. The same policy is also mandatory for teachers, students and school staff, as well as passengers on domestic flights, ferries and trains.

The country of 60 million has recorded over 4.4 million infections and over 128,000 deaths. Around 67 percent of its population have received at least one vaccine shot, and over 56 percent have been fully vaccinated.

To obtain a "green certificate," one must satisfy one of these requirements: having received at least one Covid-19 vaccine shot, recovered from Covid-19 within the last six months, or tested negative for the coronavirus within the last 48 hours.

Lan Anh, a Vietnamese exchange student in Sicily, said Italy's measures are necessary amid the raging pandemic.

"I support this policy because it helps reduce coronavirus infection risks. For the current situation, such a measure is necessary," she said.

As she has allergies, Lan Anh has not been able to get vaccinated against Covid-19. She has to employ other means of protection, for example wearing masks and constant disinfection upon going out.

"The area where I live has lifted its restrictions already. Life, in general, has gone back to normal. Most coronavirus control measures now rely on people's attitude," she said.

Lan Anh said she has already finished her study program in Italy so she avoids going out if possible. She was supposed to return to Vietnam this month, but the plan has been delayed due to the ongoing fourth coronavirus wave in the country.

"I'm not sure when I can be back."

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