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LIVING IN FRANCE

EXPLAINED: How France’s reinforced health passport system will work

The French health passport has been in place since June, but president Emmanuel Macron has announced a major expansion in the scheme in an attempt to keep a fourth wave of Covid cases under control. Here's how the passport works.

EXPLAINED: How France's reinforced health passport system will work
Photo: Damien Meyer/AFP

The pass sanitaire (health passport) is already in place for large venues in France – nightclubs, concerts, sports matches or any venue with more than 1,000 people.

However as the summer goes on it will be expanded in a two-step process to cover venues including cinemas, theatres, bars, cafés, restaurants and nursing homes.

Here’s how it works:

How?

To access certain sites, you will need to provide one of three things: a vaccination certificate, proof of a negative PCR or antigen test taken in the previous 48 hours, or proof that you have recently recovered from Covid (having tested positive more than two weeks ago and less than six months ago).

People are considered ‘fully vaccinated’ seven days after their final dose of the vaccine (although for international travel the interval remains at 14 days after the second dose, or four weeks after a single Johnson & Jonson dose).

You can present this proof on paper or via the Covid-tracking app TousAntiCovid, which includes a ‘my wallet’ section where you can scan in test results or vaccination certificates. Find out how that works HERE.

READ ALSO What to do if you don’t have a vaccination certificate with a QR code

When?

The health passport is already in place for venues of more than 1,000 people.

The government’s list published in the Journal Officiel of spaces that will need a passport if hosting large events comprises;

  • Conference, meeting or multi-use gathering rooms
  • Tents, marquees and similar structures
  • Artistic venues which receive spectators
  • Amusement arcades and gaming rooms
  • Temporary exhibitions, fairs or shows 
  • Outdoor sports facilities, excluding zoos, amusement parts and theme parks
  • Indoor sports facilities 
  • Cultural, sporting, recreational or festive events organised in a public space

Nightclubs require a health passport to enter even if they are hosting fewer than 1,000 people.

You also need it if you are travelling between Corsica and mainland France.

July 21st

The first phase of the expansion will see the pass required for all leisure and cultural spaces of more than 50 people.

This includes cinemas, theatres, museums, art galleries and tourist attractions with a capacity of more than 50.

Beginning of August

The start of August marks a much more significant extension of the health passport, as announced by Macron in a live TV address.

The measure still needs to be debated in parliament, but the president said he hopes that it will be in place by ‘the beginning of August’.

This expansion includes a far more wide-ranging expansion to many everyday venues including cafés, restaurants, bars, shopping centres, hospitals or nursing homes as a visitor and long-distance travel on trains, planes or coaches.

Transport minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari on Tuesday clarified that this referred to any domestic flights, inter-regional coach journeys or journeys on TGV and Intercité trains. Shorter journeys on local TER services or city public transport like the Paris Metro will not require a heath passport.

Unlike the earlier measures, these would apply to staff at these venues, as well as visitors.

Who?

Everyone over the age of 12 is required to show the passport in order to attend one of the above events. The cut-off age is 12 because vaccination is only open to over-12s so far in France. 

However on Wednesday it was announced that children aged between 12 and 17 won’t be required to show a health passport until August 30th, since the majority of under 18s in France are not yet fully vaccinated.

Exceptions

As every French language learner knows, all French rules have exceptions and on Tuesday government spokesman Gabriel Attal announced that there were three categories of people who will be shown ‘flexibility’ over the rules.

The first of these are children aged 12 to 17. Although this age group can be vaccinated in France, many are not or have not yet received their second injection, while some countries have still not begun vaccinating their under 18s.

“There is no question of imposing on them a hellish summer,” said Attal, promising that there would be flexibility on this.

This was backed by economy minister Bruno Le Maire, who said: “As a father of four children myself, I know how complicated the organisation of summer vacations can be. Train schedules, travel, access to restaurants, if you want to go to a movie… Let’s be flexible and understanding.”

It was later confirmed that the health passport for under 18s will not be enforced until August 30th.

The second is staff in health pass venues – unlike the current rules which only apply to visitors, from July 21st the health passport will be required for visitors and employees in health passport venues – for example waitresses, train staff and museum guides.

Many of these employees will be in younger age groups who are not yet fully vaccinated, so Attal said there would be flexibility over enforcement, in order to give them time to complete the vaccination course. They too will not need the passport until August 30th.

The third was people vaccinated outside the EU who “cannot easily use the French health passport”.

More details of exactly how these exceptions will work are expected by the end of the week.

What about tourists and visitors?

Click HERE for the situation for tourists, visitors and those who do not have a French vaccination certificate.

What if I don’t have a smartphone?

Venues will accept paper certificates of vaccination or testing, although this may involve a longer wait or using a different queue.

Didn’t the government say when this was introduced that it wouldn’t be used for everyday activities like going to a café?

Yes, when the health passport was introduced the government ruled out using it for ‘everyday activities’ such as going to the gym or to a restaurant.

However, faced with the prospect of a fourth wave of Covid cases over the summer, Macron said that he was trying to strike a balance between “protection and freedom, between protecting lives and reopening the country” and judged that the expanded use of the health passport was the best balance.

Penalties

It is proposed that a fine of up to €45,000 will be in place for non-respect of the health passport rule, but this is for businesses that fail to enforce it; not customers. The penalty for customers is not being allowed access to the health passport venue.

Member comments

  1. Health passport needed for any place of more than 50 people? Yeah, right. This will be just like the having to “sign in” at bars/restaurants for the contact tracing; despite the fact that you’re supposed to do it everywhere, I’ve been asked to do it exaclty one time so far. You think the guy letting 500ppl in the cinema door when the movie starts in 15mins is going to be scanning everyone in? Or the conductor on the Paris-Marseille TGV that’s already running 10mins late boarding? It won’t be enforeced so it’ll be ignored like all the other rules, and so the bars/restaurants will have to close again in september/october for another “15 days” until enough people get it though their thick stubborn skulls that things aren’t going to change until we’re all/nearly all vaccinated.

  2. Kieran Colfer.

    Still, would you go to events, to restaurants, to grands surfaces, knowing you might be refused entry ?

    And the measure of success is increasing the number of people who are vaccinated, and since last night over 1Million have signed up. It’s making a difference

  3. My body, my choice!
    I will not be forced to put an experimental injection into my body.
    I’ll leave that up to you lot.
    They won’t stop me from going into venues – are they going to put a guard at every door of every shop, restaurant, cafe etc, to check my Health Pass? Of course not. I don’t mind doing the PCR if I have to.

    1. World-wide, over 3.5 billion jabs have been given, covering about 25% of the planet’s population.
      In the more heavily-vaccinated countries, most-to-all Covid-19 patients (and especially those in ICU) are the unvaccinated; e.g., all the Covid-19 ICU patients in Paris, and over 99% in the USA.

      Serious side-effects of the vaccines are so infrequent the idiom “one in a million” can be used.
      With 3.5 billion jabs administrated by now, most in wealthier countries with good health systems,
      we’d know by now if there were serious risks. And we do know: There aren’t. One in a million.

      Nor is it about “your body”. It is about everyone: Unvaccinated people are not only more likely to get sick,
      being sick, they are more likely to spread the virus to others (very probably also unvaccinated).
      Maybe you don’t are if you get sick, you are being incredibly selfish and careless spreading the virus around;
      and ignoring the Health Pass checks which may or may not be present emphasizes a lack of concern for
      other people.

      In addition, unvaccinated people are helping new variants to evolve.
      The virus cannot evolve if it cannot spread, and where does it most easily spread?
      In the unvaccinated.

      The newly-announced measures are, I remind you, largely in response to the rapidly-spreading Delta variant.

      It’s not just about you. It never has been. It’s about people. All the people. Every single one of us.

      1. Don’t patronise me, blf, I do read and inform myself with world affairs, thank you.
        As mentioned to Rob, I don’t accept to be told what to do with my body. My decision, mind your own business. Thanks.

        1. The Daily Express is THE font of world affairs. All the answers are there. blf; There are no other people, only you, just self-important, brexity you.

          1. LOL Solid (stupid name btw) glad to see your cage has been rattled. And glad I’ve upset you.
            Your insults above are like water off a ducks back.

          1. When they allow me to use Sinovac or the vaccine from the Sanofi Laboratory, when it becomes available in the 4th quarter this year.
            Thank you for asking, seriously. Thank you!
            It’s so nice not to be insulted, but to be asked my opinion for a change.

    2. It is precisely that self centred selfishness that keeps us in this cycle of peaks and troughs in infections. No sense of civic responsibility or duty to the greater society you live in.

        1. If you will promise to keep your self-entitled, patronising, ignorant, soon-to-be-plagued existence out of ours, we’ve got a deal.

          Good luck on the ventilator.

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ENERGY

Cold water, 19C heating and cash bonuses: How France will cut energy use this winter

Lowered heating, speed limits, cash bonuses and lighting cuts - the French government has unveiled its 'energy sobriety' plan to cut France's energy use by 10 percent and avoid blackouts this winter.

Cold water, 19C heating and cash bonuses: How France will cut energy use this winter

Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne unveiled the long-awaited plan on Thursday, outlining the cuts that will allow France to make it through the winter without Russian gas.

The plan for sobriété enérgetique (energy sobriety) will also become part of France’s longer-term commitment to reducing its energy use by 30 percent by 2030, in order to combat climate change.

The plan is divided into three sections – measures for government offices and public buildings which are compulsory, measures for businesses which are voluntary but which businesses are expected to sign up to on a sector basis and measures that households and private individuals can take, which are entirely voluntary.

Here are the main measures; 

Government

Government officials and politicians are expected to “be exemplary”, which is why you’re likely to see a lot more politicians modelling knitwear this winter, to show how they have turned down their office heating.

Among the measures for government offices are;

Heating – government offices will not be heated to above 19C, lowered to 18C on days when the EcoWatt app (which shows the risk of energy shortages) is on a ‘red’ day – find out how EcoWatt works HERE. The heating will be turned down at night.

Dress code – dress codes are relaxed for public sector employees to allow them to dress warmly for work. 

Remote working – working from home – télétravail – became a fixture during the pandemic and looks like it might be coming back if you work for the government. Government departments will encourage home-working with an increase in the remote-working allowance for public servants. 

Travel – government agents who need to travel for work should use public transport rather than the car. If this is not possible, they should not exceed 110km/h when driving on the autoroute, in order to save around 20 percent of fuel (emergency workers are exempt from this requirement). These tactics are encouraged – but not compulsory – for private employees and individuals. 

Turn off hot water – office managers are asked to turn off hot water supplies, except when it is essential, such as for showers. Employees will therefore need to wash their hands in cold water, and boil a kettle if they want a tea or coffee. 

Building fund – funds will be available to make buildings more energy efficient.

Public spaces

Local authorities are also included in the plan, for both their own offices and for the public buildings that they manage, such as swimming pools and leisure centres. Buildings such as hospitals, nursing homes or anywhere that houses vulnerable people are exempt from these measures. 

Pools and gyms – gyms must lower their standard temperatures by 2C, while the water in swimming pools will be 1C colder. 

Lighting – lighting including street lights, lighting of public spaces and illuminating buildings should be reduced by turning off lights earlier, reducing light intensity and switching to LED lights. Many local authorities had already announced cuts to lighting on public buildings, including the city of Paris where the lights on the Eiffel Tower will be turned off one hour earlier.

Sports stadiums – sports clubs – both professional and amateur – are asked to reduce the time that pitches are floodlit and stadiums lit up before and after matches by 50 percent for daytime matches and 30 percent for evening games. 

Ski resorts – ski resorts will slow the speed of chair lifts in order to save energy but the lifts themselves as well as other ski infrastructure will still be running.

Offices – local and national government are asked to save office heating by grouping as many offices as possible into a single building. 

Businesses

Businesses are asked to sign up to energy commitments on a voluntary basis. The government is creating a brand called Les entreprises s’engagent (Companies that are committed) that companies who sign up to and implement measures will be awarded. Many businesses have already begun to make some of the outlined changes. 

Lower office heating – Offices should not be heated to more than 19C and the temperature should be dropped to 16C at night. If the office is to be closed for three days or more, heating should be lowered to 8C while staff are away. Companies are also asked to move by up to 15 days the switch-on and switch-off dates in autumn and spring for heating, although this will depend on the weather. 

Hotels, bars and restaurants – these and other businesses that welcome the public will also be asked to sign up for the 19C maximum for heating, while retail stores will be expected to go for a maximum of 17C.

Lighting – companies should turn off interior lighting as soon as an office, store or other workplace is closed. Exterior lighting should be reduced, including for advertising, and should be turned off by 1am at the latest. 

Travel – businesses should reduce unnecessary travel by employees and use public transport wherever possible for employees who do have to travel.

Households

These measures are advisory only, but will be accompanied by a publicity campaign – named Chaque geste compte (every action counts) encouraging individuals to do their bit and help to reduce their energy use.

Temperature – lowering the temperature in your home by just 1C can save around seven percent of your energy use. It is recommended to have the living spaces no warmer than 19C, with bedrooms at 17C. This is voluntary, and vulnerable people such as the elderly or those with a disability may need to have the heating at a higher setting.

Appliances – a range of energy-saving tips are suggested, from turning off lights in rooms that are not used to not leaving appliances on standby and unplugging appliances if you are going away. 

Carpooling – in order to encourage car-sharing, there will be bonuses for people who sign up to car-share schemes. 

Cash bonuses – households that manage to reduce their consumption this winter will be in line for a bonus sobriété (sobriety bonus) from their gas or electricity company. Several companies have already announced bonuses of up to €120 for households that make significant cuts.

Heat pumps – homeowners will be able to get grants of up to €9,000 to switch a gas boiler to a heat pump, through the existing Ma PrimeRenov scheme.

Energy forecast – TV channels will start to broadcast the ‘energy forecast’ in a similar way to the weather forecast, showing how high the risk of energy shortages are in the days ahead. 

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