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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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For members

STRIKES

What to expect from the February 7th strike in France

February 7th marks the third day of mass strike action in the ongoing battle between the French government and unions over pension reform. From planes and trains to school, ski lifts and power cuts - here's what to expect on Tuesday.

What to expect from the February 7th strike in France

The next ‘mass mobilisation’ in the ongoing battle against pension reform is scheduled for Tuesday, February 7th, and will be followed by another one on Saturday, February 11th.

5 minutes to understand French pension reform

Tuesday’s mobilisation is supported by all eight French trades union federations, which means that support is likely to be high and disruption severe on certain services.

It will come as French lawmakers debate the bill in the Assemblé Nationale.

Workers in essential services such as transport must declare their intention to strike 48 hours in advance, allowing transport operators to produce strike timetables, which are usually released 24 hours in advance.

We will update this story as new information is released.

READ MORE: ANALYSIS: Who is winning the battle over French pension reform?

Trains

The four main unions (CGT Cheminots, Sud Rail, CFDT Cheminots, and UNSA Ferroviaire) representing workers with France’s national rail service, SNCF, have all called for strike action on Tuesday, February 7th.

During the day of action on January 31st, 36.5 percent of railway workers went on strike, compared to 46 percent on January 19th.

In addition to Tuesday’s strike action, two of the above unions, CGT and Sud Rail, have also called on workers to strike on February 8th. However, as of February 2nd, the other two primary unions had not made any calls to take part in Wednesday’s action.

Intercity and TER trains operated by the SNCF will likely see services disrupted on Tuesday with many cancellations. International trains including the Eurostar could also be affected.

City public transport

In the Paris region, the main unions representing RATP (Paris region public transport services) issued a joint statement on February 1st saying they would join calls for mobilisation on February 7th.

Traffic was severely disrupted on the most recent day of strike action, January 31st, on certain RER lines, with some lines like the RER C running an average of 1 train out of 10. As for the Paris Metro system, several lines only ran during peak hours and many stations across the city were closed. Many buses continued running, though with delays to usual operating times.

Other cities including Marseille and Lyon will likely see a repeat of severely disrupted bus, tram and Metro services.

In Lyon, on January 31st, public transport services were strongly impacted by strike action, and one metro line did not run at all throughout the day. 

Air travel

While it is not yet clear what level of disruption to expect in air travel, the leading civil aviation union, USACcgt, has called on “all DGAC (French civil aviation authority) and ENAC (National school of civil aviation) staff to go on strike en masse and take part in demonstrations” on February 7th, according to reporting by Le Parisien.

During the two previous mobilisations, approximately 20 percent of flights operating out of Paris-Orly airport were cancelled, but other airports were not affected. 

Ports

Port and dock workers walked on January 31st. It is not yet clear if they will join actions on February 7th, but typically strikes in this sector impact commercial ports rather than ferry ports. 

Schools

Tuesday’s strike will take place during the first round of winter holidays – so students in the Zone A (Besançon, Bordeaux, Clermont-Ferrand, Dijon, Grenoble, Limoges, Lyon, Poitiers) will already be off school.

You can find out more information about France’s school zones here.

Nevertheless – one of the major unions representing teachers, Snuipp-FSU said in a statement that they hope to see an “amplification” of previous walkouts, as they called on teachers to walk out on February 7th.

Primary school teachers (maternelle and elementary schools) are required to inform students and families at least 48 hours in advance of their intent to strike.

On January 31st, the Ministry of Education reported that about 25.9 percent of teachers walked out, in comparison to the 38.5 percent who walked out on the 19th. Numbers offered by the Snuipp-FSU union were higher – they said that about 50 percent of elementary school teachers walked out, and that 55 percent of secondary school teachers did so as well.

In addition to industrial action by teachers, several student unions, like the “National Student Movement” (MNL), representing high school students have made an effort to mobilise French youth across the nation, with some blocking the entrance to their high schools on strike days. According to the Journal des Femmes, the MNL has called on high schoolers across the country to walk out again on the 7th.

Ski lifts

BFMTV reported on January 31st that a walkout was scheduled for seasonal workers for approximately one hour and thirty minutes on Tuesday, February 7th. This means that in some resorts, ski lifts and stores could be closed. 

READ MORE: What to expect from strike action in France during the February school holidays

The two unions that represent more than 90 percent of workers in ski resorts have also called an ‘unlimited’ strike which began on January 31st. This means further actions could come later in the month as well.

Petrol stations

French refinery workers have threatened to strike for a 72-hour period beginning on February 6th. Union representative, Eric Sellini, told AFP that these actions could result in a “lower throughput” for petrol and a “stoppage of shipments.”

This could mean that there may be shortages of petrol and diesel at some filling stations if the blockades are successful in stopping supplies leaving the refineries.

The mobilisation on January 31st saw a significant number of refinery workers walk out – between 75 to 100 percent at some refinery and oil depots, according to the union CGT.

Power cuts 

Workers in the energy sector (electricity and gas), primarily represented by the union FNME-CGT, have announced plans to strike from February 6th through 8th. 

The day of action on January 31st had 40.3 percent of employees at EDF (France’s national energy provider) walk out, in comparison to 44.5 percent on January 19th.

Some workers in this sector have taken what they call “Robin Hood” actions to “distribute free electricity” to hospitals, schools and low-income housing areas.

On January 31st, striking workers brought about significant load reductions in some power plants across the country – approximately 3,000 MW according to La Depeche. However, these reductions in power reportedly did not lead to any power cuts on the 31st.

Demos

Demonstrations are expected in cities and towns across the country.

January 31st, the most recent day of large scale mobilisation, saw over 1.27 million people take to the streets according to the interior ministry. In Paris, the number of protesters was estimated at 87,000, higher than the 80,000 clocked last time, the ministry told AFP.

In Lyon, the route for the demonstration has already been decided, according to Lyon Capitale. It will begin at 12pm in front of the Manufacture des Tabacs. The procession will move toward the Place Bellecour.

Unions are hoping for a similar turnout on February 7th.

Other strike dates

The above information relates to February 7th only. Unions have also called for more walkouts on February 11th. 

Additionally, the strike by oil refinery workers is expected to run for 72 hours, meaning it will continue into Wednesday, February 8th. There could be more action in later days by oil refinery workers, as they have called for an ‘unlimited strike’.

Other unions have also declared ‘unlimited’ strikes, so there could be disruptions on these services on other days – these include ski lift operators and truck drivers.

It is highly likely that further one-day or multi-day strikes will be announced for February and March, as the pension reform bill comes before parliament, you can keep up to date with out strike calendar HERE.

We will update this article as more information becomes available, and you can also keep up with the latest in our strike section HERE.

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