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HEALTH

QR codes and sign-ins – how France’s reopened restaurants keep track of customers

As restaurants, bars and cafés reopen their indoor spaces, dinner or drinks inside now requires a sign-in - here's how it works.

QR codes and sign-ins - how France's reopened restaurants keep track of customers
Entry to the interior of a bar, restaurant or café will involve scanning a QR code. Photo: Lucas Bariolet/AFP

What’s happening?

Wednesday, June 9th marks phase 3 of France’s reopening plan – the curfew moves back to 11pm, working from home is no longer be the rule and gyms and swimming pools reopened under strict health protocols.

IN DETAIL: France’s plan for reopening after lockdown

It also means that cafés, restaurants and bars won’t have to worry about bad weather, as indoor dining is finally permitted again.

But there are questions arising as to how the French government will keep track of any Covid issues that may arise. 

How?

For large events like concerts, a ‘health passport’ will be required, where customers will have to show a code for either a vaccination certificate or a recent Covid test. 

READ ALSO How France’s health passport will work this summer

This is not required for cafés, bars, restaurants, gyms and other places deemed “everyday activities” and people can enter those without having to provide any proof of their test or vaccination status.

Instead, establishments must provide a ‘sign in’ for customers to provide their name and contact details, so that if a fellow customer or staff member later tests positive for Covid they can be traced and contacted.

This can be provided either in a paper format or by a QR code that customers can scan with a smartphone.

This does not apply to terraces, only for people eating or drinking indoors at bars, cafés or restaurants. 

How does the QR code work?

The black and white square QR codes have been widely used during the pandemic, with many restaurants replacing their menus with scannable codes to avoid cross-contamination.

For the sign-in code, first you must download the French Covid tracking app TousAntiCovid (if you have not already) which then links to a web page where you can fill in your name and contact details.

The government is urging restaurants to use these, as they are quicker and simpler to use and keep data more secure than a paper sign-in sheet which can be seen by all customers.

For people who do not have a smartphone, or don’t want to scan the code, a paper journal will be provided in order for them to leave their details. 

If an individual tests positive for Covid they should notify the Tous Anti Covid app, which will activate a code that sends an alert to people who scanned the same restaurant’s QR code on the same date. 

All data will only be stored on the individual’s phone and will be erased after two weeks.

Member comments

  1. If the French tolerate this nonsense then they truly are a defeated people. Gillets Jaune!

    1. This is way more lax than either British or German tracking. And incomparably less strict than tracking in Taiwan and Israel. I’d say that French preserved quite a lot of freedom compared to others.

  2. I agree James, so silly. Who is going to stay home because a stranger tested positive? It should be with vaccination no questions asked or restrictions, without not either, that is ones own choice. Was it not all about the overfull hospitals? Now it is about controle, knowing where you are at any time, how much you spend and how long and far you’re away from home. Download the app to have access, do not allow internet access for this app, you’ll never get notified, lol

    1. Johanna,
      can you imagine the utter pointlessness and in fact, impossibility, of tracking the minutest movements of every single person all day every day? It would be like inviting a massive self-inflicted DDoS attack that would almost instantly suffocate the world’s intelligence systems.

      Governments have lists of people they want to keep an eye on. Being a human rights activist, advocate or defender is a reliable way to end up on one. Their ‘intelligence’ is usually banal and often fatuous. Over the last twenty five years I’ve been on four (that I know of). Here are some examples of their intelligenius:

      One. Subject was observed to enter the gents toilets where Julian Assange was shaving [[at a press event at the Frontline Club in London]].

      Two. Subject was seen in a military-style vehicle in the Co. Durham hometown of a journo whom the Taliban were holding hostage in Afghanistan. [[I was in my old Landie, on my way home after driving my daughter up to her new uni – this sighting brought me a visit from Special Branch, who had a cup of tea with me and my wife and left apologising for the nuisance.]]

      Three. One of the subject’s books was read by a ladies’ book group in Longford, Derbyshire who reported, “We weren’t sure whether to blush or laugh”.[[Report from private US intelligence firm Stratfor for a client, obtained and published by Wikileaks.]]

      Four. I was having dinner with an old friend in intelligence and began telling him about some of the campaigning we’d been doing. He said, “Listen _____, I have a dossier on you this thick…” “Anything I should know about?” I asked. “No,” he said, “you’re terribly boring. Let’s have another whisky.” He was of course joking. Or was he? [[His wife wouldn’t let him drink at home.]]

      Should you be worried about being tracked? Yes.

      We should all remember that our smart phones are already tracking us. And if you use Gmail, your messages are keyword-scanned by Google. If you have an Alexa AI, it listens to everything you say and squirts filtered info back to Amazon. Anything you look up, or at. on Google, or buy from Amazon, the pages you read on Facebook, the posts you ‘like’, the things you say on WhatsApp, Twitter, Instagram and Linked-In are selectively harvested to build up a formidable mass of information about you, all aimed at finding out what you’re interested in so they can sell the information to advertisers. I wrote to a friend about footballs (I mean the round sort) recently and shouldn’t have been, but was, surprised to find ads for Adidas and other brands of balls and boots bouncing around in my birdtracks across the net. So now I fly.

      If you want privacy, use a good VPN, a mail service like Hushmail, or Signal and browse using Tor, but privacy can’t be taken for granted. The so-called Dark Web was penetrated and Dread Pirates Roberts, creator of the famous/infamous Silk Road can nowadays be found c/o the US Penitentiary in Tucson, where he is serving a double life sentence + 40 years.

      Please for everyone’s sake, and your own sanity, try to discriminate between wild conspiracy theories designed to arouse hysteria and cause panic, and the genuinely antisocial conspiracies that are never talked about. Like the current carefully engineered boom in house prices in the UK.

      1. Agreed. All of the people complaining here about “I don’t want to be tracked” are probably also tweeting the same thing, on their iPhone, that they bought on amazon.fr because of the next-day delivery, while on the Starbucks wifi, after scanning their loyalty card to get the points for their latte, after using their Navigo to get to the shopping center. But yeah, they don’t want to be tracked by scanning a QR code to go into the cinema/restaurant., because that”s an intrusion in their lives.

  3. I agree that this tracking is invasive and unnecessary. A year ago it might have been helpful, but now it is punitive and controlling, not to mention nonsensical. I wonder how long it will last before it’s abandoned because either people don’t do it or there are demonstrations every weekend.

    1. A year ago France had *less* COVID cases and second wave was still a theoretical thing. Contact tracing is way more important *now* than ever before.

  4. I have my vaccine details and QR on the NHS app but can I get these transferred onto my Tous Anti Covid app? I’m not sure the QR will be able to be read in France.

  5. Wish we had this in the USA. I don’t want to be in a room with unvaccinated individuals. Let them go to places that cater to the unvaccinated in the name of freedom. They want the freedom to do what they want and be able to infect others. No sense of patriotism and the common good. Everything is about them as the center of the universe.

  6. This is about control now. I don’t want to tracked. Some people can’t take the experimental jab and others don’t want to. Stand up for your rights. I would be more afraid of TB.

    1. The vaccine is no longer experimental and it was the most widely scrutinised and tested vaccine EVER. You don’t have a right to be a danger to others – we have our rights too.

      Also, French app don’t track your location – it’s just an automated version of a paper form.

    2. Stand up for your rights? So what about your right to not have to worry about getting sick just because Francois DuPlague sitting maskless at the next table, shoulder to shoulder with his 10 friends, doesn’t want to get the vaccine because it’s too much hassle to have to look for an appointment and then go to the place and queue up (beurk) to get the injection – twice!

      And the good thing is, you don’t HAVE TO be afraid of TB any more. You know why? Because nearly everyone is vaccinated against it from childhood so it isn’t so much of a problem. Funny how that works isn’t it?

  7. It took longer to sort the app (hate that expression) out then it did to have the Janssen vaccination.

  8. Never had a problem with the app. It updates itself and provides a clear set of data.
    This is in an iPhone, my partner has a few issues on her Android phone, but nothing insurmountable

  9. To-date, the app on my Android-10 Fairphone3 (everything is up-to-date) hasn’t been able to scan a QR code, it keeps saying something like “invalid code”. I can scan the code using a QR-scanning app, which contacts a website and (supposedly) registers my presence, but cannot transfer that scan to the app, nor does it ever show up in the app’s wallet. On the other hand, there is (currently?) only one location in the village using a QR track-and-trace code, so there is no(?) opportunity to check with another QR code. All very frustrating!

    Any recommendations?

    1. The app has been updated since. The updated app is able to scan the QR code at a different location in the village, but still cannot handle the QR code at the first location. Still frustrating, but progress, I presume…

      1. Just a minor follow-up for completeness: Both the app itself and the QR code’s image at the problematic location have been updated (the app several times), and they now work together just fine. No idea if the problem was with the app at the time, or the QR code (or its image) at the time.

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For members

FOOD & DRINK

ANALYSIS: Is France food self-sufficient?

The war in Ukraine and, in the longer term, climate change have prompted concerns about supplies and cost of food - but would France be able to produce enough to feed its population if necessary?

ANALYSIS: Is France food self-sufficient?

As food prices rise in France and elsewhere, questions over the country’s food security and self-sufficiency have been asked.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – a major exporter of wheat, corn and oil – has affected global markets, with prices for such products increasing dramatically, while sanctions imposed on Russia – the world’s biggest wheat exporter – following the invasion are also hitting prices. 

It has also prompted questions as to whether, if necessary, France could feed the 67 million people who call it home, while both the European Commission and the G7 set out plans to safeguard global food security. 

Unlike other countries, such as Switzerland, France does not have a formal policy of self sufficiency for food – though it does have a policy for energy security.

READ ALSO Why is France so obsessed with nuclear power?

“There is no risk of shortage in France because our agriculture and our agri-food sectors are strong and sovereign,” former agriculture minister Julien Denormandie said on March 16th, while acknowledging that the industry faced a number of challenges.

He pointed to the economic and social resilience plan published by ex-Prime Minister Jean Castex to protect the French economy from the the effects of the Ukraine war, and which included measures to, “secure our producers, our processors as well as our agricultural and food production from 2022.”

Food prices, as predicted, have risen, both for imports and for domestically produced goods as farmers are hit by rising costs for fuel. The agriculture industry has been among the sectors consulted and farmers have been singled out for support, in order that they will be able to minimise price rises to consumers.

In April 2020, at the height of the Covid pandemic, it was estimated that France imports about 20 percent of its food.

But France – a food exporter – could feed its entire population, according to a report by the think tank Utopies, published in April. There’s a reason the country has been referred to as the ‘bread basket of Europe’.

The study found that France currently meets 60 percent of its own food needs, but has the potential to become self-sufficient. The report said that the 26 percent of food products currently grown in France for export or incorporation into processed food could be used to cover 98 percent of France’s domestic needs, the report said.

Food processing in France, of which some 24 percent is currently exported, could cover 114 percent of the country’s needs in that sector, it added.

Of course food ‘needs’ don’t include luxury imported items like exotic fruits, chocolate and coffee, so diets would see a change in a completely self-sufficient France.

More recently, drought has also prompted short-term concerns, with French farmers worried about their harvests this year. 

France is the EU’s biggest wheat exporter, and one of the top five in the world. But hopes that French farmers would be able to offset at least some of the shortfall in the world’s supply of grain following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have been hit by the record low rainfall so far this year, which have prompted warnings of a large drop in yields.

ALSO READ ‘No region has been spared’: Why the dry weather in France is causing concern

The forecast is for a smaller than usual French wheat harvest this year. With wheat-producing states in the US such as Kansas and Oklahoma also suffering in drought conditions, a poor harvest in France this year could be particularly significant – and could lead to wheat prices rising even higher in the short term.

At the height of the pandemic, president of the Fédération nationale des syndicats d’exploitants agricoles (FNSEA) Christiane Lambert told Les Echos that there were two key pillars to ensuring food security and independence in France – the ability to produce and the ability to store. 

“No one bought French flour anymore because foreign flour was cheaper,” Lambert said. “So we produced less. But with the coronavirus crisis, it was necessary to respond to demand and therefore relaunch the production lines by running them day and night to avoid shortages.”

French agriculture was able to meet the challenge then. “We have in France a complete ecosystem which allows us to control all the links in the food chain … It must be preserved if we want to be sovereign over our food,” Lambert added.

But there would need to be a change in philosophy about food, according to Les Republicains’ senator Laurent Duplomb.

In France, “entry-level” agricultural products are mainly imported, since authorities have insisted on reorienting domestic production towards quality over quantity.

“We must also stop focusing on high-end agriculture because food sovereignty means being able to produce for everyone,” Duplomb said back in 2020. 

“The risk in a few years is to have two French consumers. The first will have the means to buy top-of-the-range French products, the second will be condemned to consume only imported products since France will no longer produce them.”

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