France introduces mandatory health passes for restaurants and travel

In new measures to to tackle the coronavirus epidemic, the French parliament has approved legislation  that will require people to present a health pass for access to restaurants, bars, trains and planes from the beginning of August, and which also requires frontline healthcare staff to be vaccinated by mid-September.

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France's parliament approved a law early Monday requiring people to carry special passes to prove they are free of  coronavirus infection in order to access all restaurants and domestic travel, while also mandating vaccinations for all health workers, reports FRANCE 24.

All venues accommodating more than 50 people already require proof of vaccination or a recent negative Covid-19 test, including museums, cinemas and swimming pools.

Both measures have prompted protests and political tensions.

President Emmanuel Macron and his government say they are needed to protect vulnerable populations and hospitals as infections rebound and to avoid new lockdowns.

The law requires all workers in the health care sector to start getting vaccinated by September 15th, or risk suspension. It also requires a “health pass” to enter all restaurants, trains, planes and some other public venues. It initially applies to all adults, but will apply to everyone aged 12 and older from September 30th. 

To get the pass, people must have proof they are fully vaccinated, recently tested negative or recently recovered from the virus. Paper or digital documents will be accepted. The law says a government decree will outline how to handle vaccination documents from other countries.

The bill was unveiled just six days ago.

Lawmakers worked through the night and the weekend to reach a compromise version approved by the Senate on Sunday night and by the National Assembly after midnight.

The rules can be applied through to November 15th, depending on the virus situation.

Macron appealed for national unity and mass vaccination to fight the resurgent virus, and lashed out at those fueling anti-vaccine sentiment and protests.

About 160,000 people protested around France on Saturday against a special Covid-19 pass for restaurants and mandatory vaccinations for health workers. Many marchers shouted “liberty!” and said the government shouldn’t tell them what to do.

Read more of this report from FRANCE 24.

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