The pass – required for entry to a wide range of venues including bars, restaurants, ski lifts, tourist sites and long-distance trains – could be scrapped as soon as March, said Attal.
But the news will come as scant comfort to between four and five million people in France who have not had a booster and will therefore have their pass deactivated from next week.
As Covid-19 cases fall in France, Attal indicated that the end of the vaccine pass requirement may be nigh.
“The number of cases is down 35 percent, the reproduction rate of the virus is now 0.77 – this shows that the epidemic is regressing,” he said after the weekly Council of Ministers at the Elysée Palace.
“But let’s be careful not to boast,” he cautioned. “Hospitals remain under tension.”
Health minister Oliver Véran had previously suggested that the pass could be scrapped by July.
Attal confirmed that nightclubs can reopen, as already scheduled, from Wednesday, February 16th, and said: “There are reasons to hope that by this time horizon the situation will have improved sufficiently for us to be able to lift its final measures.”
The “time horizon” to which he referred is understood to mean the period around the end of March and beginning of April.
Professor Alain Fischer, président of the conseil d’orientation de la stratégie vaccinale, which advises the government, had earlier suggested a similar timeline.
Questioned in the Senate on Wednesday, Fischer clarified the conditions which must be met for the the government to officially signal the end of the vaccine pass requirement. “We need a reduced incidence rate. That means at least 10 or 20 times lower than today, and – above all – that the current hospital overload has disappeared.”
He went on: “If people get vaccinated and follow the rules, by the end of March to April, I hope we will reach this situation.”
Health Minister Olivier Véran had also alluded to the possibility of bringing forward the end date for passes. On February 2nd, he told BFMTV: “The end [of the vaccine pass], we know it, it’s July. But if we can remove the pass before, we will.”
But the reduced deadline for getting a booster dose, which was cut from seven to four months, means that up to five million people could see their older health passes deactivated from Tuesday, February 15th, and there are not enough available vaccination slots for everyone to get a third jab in time.
From that date anyone over 18 will have to receive a booster if their second dose was more than four months ago.
This applies to both residents of France and tourists.
Find full details on the booster shot requirement HERE.