Tuesday morning, Earl and I drove to the city of Castelnaudary.
|Beautiful flowers fly above the streets|
We parked in the lot across from the hospital, and I went in for my first French mammogram. But before I could enter the hospital, I needed to show my pass sanitaire. The pass sanitaire is a vaccine passport. If you haven't been vaccinated in France, forget visiting the hospital for yearly exams like mammograms or colonoscopies.
Here in France, we are required to show a Pass Sanitaire. That is a QR code that proves we have been vaccinated if we want to eat in a restaurant, have coffee in a café, or enter the square to listen to live music.
|Cappuccino is available with the pass sanitaire|
The rules began on August 9th and since then, surprisingly, cafes and restaurants have been busy with patrons who willingly pull out their phones and show their passes. France currently has a loophole that people can get tested every three days and show their negative tests. The Covid tests are free for French residents now, but in October, residents will have to start paying for them, 50 euros per test. That is in hopes of convincing people to get the vaccination instead of getting regularly tested.
There are many French people who are upset about the requirement. There are even some restaurants and bars resisting. They don't ask to see the pass or they don't scan them.
|A music fete this summer where our pass sanitaire was screened before we could enter the square.|
One cafe owner said "We hate to ask our friends for their pass." Then she hesitated and said, "But a coffee, that's not really a necessity, is it?" And that's the point. You don't have to go out for a coffee. You want to go out for a coffee or for a drink with friends.
Here in France, we know what it is like to forego those pleasures. From October 30, 2020 through June 9, 2021, restaurants and bars were closed for dine in, whether outside or in. We didn't sit and drink with our friends. No music played in the town squares. We were lucky to wander through markets with our masks firmly in place to buy the necessities -- food only. Clothing and trinkets were not included in the markets.
Now, it's our turn, the vaccinated, to go out on the town. To raise a glass and celebrate that we have survived the initial phase of a pandemic.
|A kir perhaps|
In Esperaza, a town know for its free spirits, the Gendarmes patrol the market, reminding people to keep their masks up firmly over their mouth and nose.
|This picture truly captures Esperaza|
Earl and I sat for a coffee one Sunday, listening to music nearby as two guys played the didgeridoos. The waiter came out to take an order of a nearby table. The woman sat smoking a cigarette. The waiter asked for her pass sanitaire. She said she didn't have it. He said he couldn't serve her. She protested, waving her cigarette in the air. No, he insisted and she reluctantly left the outdoor café. Her empty table was quickly snapped up by someone who was vaccinated.
I heard a French official explain that for a year and a half, he and his daughters had been isolating to avoid the virus and to avoid spreading the virus. Now they have their vaccines. It is their turn to go out to restaurants and movies and music festivals. Those who aren't vaccinated can isolate, staying home to avoid getting Covid.