France ‘considering’ charging non-vaccinated people for Covid tests

France 'considering' charging non-vaccinated people for Covid tests
Photo: Thomas Coex/AFP
The French health minister has said he is willing to consider the idea of charging non-vaccinated people for 'convenience' Covid tests - for example tests needed to travel or to enter venues like nightclubs.

Patrick Berche, a doctor and member of the Académie de médecine has proposed starting to charge for Covid tests done for “personal convenience” – if the patient is not vaccinated.

At present all tests are free – even for tourists – and test results can be presented instead of a vaccination certificate at events which require a health passport to enter – such as concerts or nightclubs – or for travel.

READ ALSO How France’s health passport works

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Berche’s idea is to exert a gentle pressure on more people to get vaccinated.

Tests performed for contact tracing reasons or if a person has symptoms, will remain free.

“It’s an option that’s being looked at,” health minister Olivier Véran told France Info on Tuesday.

“Not right away, because currently we need everybody to be able to be tested, and it’s a credit to our country that there are no financial obstacles to getting tested.

“Once all French people have been offered the vaccine – and there are some who are yet to take the plunge – the question will arise around whether, when going to a nightclub or such and such place with a convenience test even though you’re not symptomatic or a contact case, this should be paid for from the public purse.

“I’m very open to discussions on this topic.”

“It’s a great idea,” Benjamin Davido, an infectious disease specialist, told Le Parisien.

“Some will say that it is an unconfessed form of vaccination obligation, but I do not agree: nothing obliges to visit a relative abroad or to go to a concert. The goal is mainly to eliminate the few people who do routine tests or for their own convenience.”

France is one of the few countries that does not charge for travel tests.

It has also extended free testing to tourists over the summer, mainly to keep Covid numbers down, but something that is welcome for travellers who need a test to return to their home country.

READ ALSO How visitors can get a Covid test in France

Throughout the earlier stages of the pandemic, people in France were encouraged to take a test before visiting elderly relatives or travelling to another part of the country, but now authorities are keen to direct people towards vaccination.

The rate of first injections for the vaccine has slowed in recent weeks, worrying for authorities as cases of the Delta variant of Covid are on the rise. 

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