Only 25% of France’s nightclubs expected to reopen as owners judge health passport rules ‘too strict’

French nightclubs will be allowed to reopen on Friday night for the first time since March 2020, but the majority of venues say they will remain closed, judging health restrictions to be too strict.

Only 25% of France's nightclubs expected to reopen as owners judge health passport rules 'too strict'
French nightclubs can open their doors from July 9th. Photo: Miguel MEDINA / AFP.

Three quarters of nightclubs will not open before September, Ivan Poupardin, president of the French Association of Nightclub Owners told the Journal du dimanche earlier this month.

Although bars and cafés have reopened periodically over the last 18 months, nightclubs have been closed since the pandemic first hit in March 2020.

Concerts with a standing audience have been possible since June 30th and nightclubs reopen on July 9th.

However indoor venues are allowed 75 percent of their normal capacity (outdoor events can have 100 percent capacity) and entry to nightclubs is via the health passport.

“We don’t want the health pass, it’s much too restrictive. It’s as if you were running ski lifts in June without skiers!” Morgan Dalle, who manages a nightclub in the northern city of Béthune, told La Voix du Nord.

Dalle, who also runs national collective of café, hotel, restaurant and nightclub owners, said he expected 30 percent of France’s clubs to be either closed or in administration by 2022.

Health passports and masks

A health passport is required to enter a nightclub. The French health pass is available through the TousAntiCovid app or on paper. In order to access the pass, you need to show either 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.

But with currently only 22 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds in France fully vaccinated, club owners say they do not expect enough customers to return to make it worth their while opening.

READ ALSO When and where you will need a health passport this summer

Culture minister Roselyn Bachelot has said it will be possible for nightclubs and concert venues to provide antigen tests at the entrance for those who do not already have a health passport.

For clubs or larger concerts where a health passport is required, a mask will not be compulsory, although it is recommended.

For smaller concerts that do not require a health passport, the mask will still be required.

The government will re-evaluate the measures in September.

“We are going to be able to look ahead to the summer in good conditions and party safely,” Griset said.

France has around 1,600 nightclubs which employ 30,000 people.

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France to roll out ID cards app

Technology is being rolled out to allow people to carry their French ID cards in an app form - and could be rolled out to other cards, including driving licences and cartes de séjour residency cards.

France to roll out ID cards app

Holders of French carte d’identité (ID cards) will soon be able to carry certified digital versions of them on their smartphone or other electronic devices, a decree published in the Journal Officiel has confirmed.

An official app is being developed for holders of the newer credit card-format ID cards that have information stored on a chip. A provisional test version of the app is expected at the end of May.

Users will be able to use the ID card app, when it becomes available, for a range of services “from checking in at the airport to renting a car”, according to Thierry Breton, EU Commissioner for the Internal Market.

All French citizens have an ID card, which can be used for proving identity in a range of circumstances and for travel within the EU and Schengen zone – the new app will be in addition to the plastic card that holders already have.

Under the plans, after downloading the app, card holders will need merely to hold the card close to their phone to transfer the required information. According to officials, the holder then can decide what information is passed on – such as proof of age, or home address – according to the situation.

The government has not given any examples of situations in which the app would need to be used, but has set out the main principles and the ambition of the plan: to allow everyone to identify themselves and connect to certain public and private organisations, in particular those linked to the France Connect portal.

READ ALSO What is France Connect and how could it make your life simpler?

Cards will continue to be issued for the foreseeable future – this is merely an extension of the existing system.

Only French citizens have ID cards, but if successful the app is expected to be rolled out to include other cards, such as driving licences, cartes de séjour residency cards or even visas. A digital wallet is being developed at the European level – Member States have until September to agree what it could contain.

READ ALSO Eight smartphone apps that make life in France a bit easier