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Can families with unvaccinated children holiday in France this summer?

With the expansion of France's health passport scheme, accessing venues like cafés, museums and tourist sites will be more complicated for those who are not vaccinated. So what does this mean for families whose children have not yet had the vaccine?

Can families with unvaccinated children holiday in France this summer?
Photo: Bertrand Langlois/AFP

As part of a package of measures aimed at controlling a fourth wave of Covid, driven by the delta variant, French president Emmanuel Macron has laid out plans to greatly expand the use of the pass sanitaire (health passport) in France.

The passport provides proof of either fully vaccinated status or a negative Covid test within the previous 72 hours, or recent recovery from Covid and from August will be required to enter venues including cafés, bars, restaurants, museums, cinemas, theatres, tourist sites and shopping centres and to use long-distance coach or train services.

You can read a full explanation of how the passport works HERE.

The passport will be required for everyone over 12.

While in France vaccines are open to everyone over the age of 12, many other countries have not yet begun vaccinating under 18s – so what does this mean for families who want to travel to France this summer?

READ ALSO Can tourists use France’s health passport?

If the adults in the family are vaccinated, then entry to France is allowed for children on the same terms as their parents.

Once in France, parents will have to use the health passport to access venues including cafés and tourist sites – and the French government has confirmed that foreign vaccination certificates including the NHS app will be accepted as proof of vaccinated status.

The plan as originally announced was for the passport to be required for all over 12s from the beginning of August.

However France only opened its vaccination programme to under 18s in June, and the majority of French teenagers are not yet fully vaccinated.

After many parents – including government ministers who have kids – pointed out that this would a create a logistical nightmare for parents over the holiday period, it was announced that under 18s will be allowed into these venues without a health passport until August 30th.

This is intended to give families time to get their children vaccinated, and enjoy the summer holidays together.

However from August 30th it will be compulsory – subject to a vote in parliament – for all over 12s to present a health passport to access certain venues.

The passport has the option to show a negative Covid test for people who are not vaccinated, but the test must be from the previous 72 hours, so people who intend to rely on this will need to do tests every three days.

Tests are readily available and easy to access in France, but non-residents must pay for them. Costs are capped at €49 for a PCR test or €29 for an antigen test – either are accepted for the health passport.

READ ALSO How tourists and visitors can get a Covid test in France 

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Drought-hit Mont Blanc shuts shelters to dissuade hikers

Authorities in the French Alps said Friday they had closed down two popular mountain shelters used by Mont Blanc climbers because of potentially deadly drought-related rockfalls.

Drought-hit Mont Blanc shuts shelters to dissuade hikers

In a year marked by drought and heatwaves, rockfalls and gaping crevices have made access to the top of Mont Blanc, western Europe’s highest mountain, even more difficult and perilous.

The mayor’s office in the Mont Blanc village of Saint-Gervais, said climbers were in “mortal danger” from rocks and shards coming loose because of dry weather and dropping from a height.

“All day long, we still see climbers going on the mountain range, all the time, as if this was Disneyland or the Parc Asterix,” said Saint-Gervais mayor Jean-Marc Peillex, in reference to two popular theme parks near Paris.

Hikers had been advised since last month to stay away because of the danger, but “they just don’t give a damn,” he told AFP.

READ MORE: ‘To pay funeral costs’ – Why Mont Blanc mayor wants to charge climbers

The closure of the two mountain shelters — Gouter with 120 overnight spots and Tete Rousse with 74, as well as a base camp accommodating up to 50 people — was to “show clearly that there is no accommodation available”.

The authorities had warned for weeks that falling rocks were a danger, he said, adding that crossing the Gouter mountain corridor represented “a mortal danger”, he said.

Nevertheless, 79 people stayed at the Gouter shelter Thursday night, he said.

The shelters will remain shut until normal weather conditions return, the mayor said, probably not before early September.

Peillex had warned Wednesday that Saint-Gervais would require a deposit of €15,000 from each hiker, saying the sum represented the average cost of a rescue operation and a funeral.

He was, however, advised that French law offers no basis for such a move.

A lack of snow during the winter has laid bare vast areas of greyish glacier — yellowish where sand dust from the Sahara has accumulated — riven with fractures on the Mont Blanc.

The heat did the rest, causing the fragile snow bridges to melt that make it possible to cross the crevasses, as well as leading to landslides.

Following several heatwaves, France is in the grip of severe drought, blamed by scientists on climate change.

On Friday, 100 municipalities across the country were without drinking water, Environment Minister Christophe Bechu said.

Calling the drought “historic”, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne called a crisis meeting Friday to seek solutions.

Scientists say human-induced climate change is amplifying extreme weather — including the heatwaves, droughts and floods seen in several parts of the planet in recent weeks — and say these events will become more frequent and more intense.

The international community has agreed that climate change poses an existential threat to human systems and the natural world.