French government deactivates 3.5 million Covid vaccine passes

The French government has announced that 3.5 million people will be affected by the deactivation of their vaccine pass on Wednesday.

French government deactivates 3.5 million Covid vaccine passes
The vaccine pass is required to enter a wide range of everyday venues. Photo by Christophe SIMON / AFP

Passes will be deactivated for people who have not had a booster shot, if more than four months has passed since their second vaccine dose.

The new rule requiring boosters for all over 18s came into force on February 15th, but the government gave a one-week ‘period of tolerance’ to allow people to get the booster shot.

This tolerance period ends on Wednesday so from then on if you had your second dose more than four months ago and you have not had a booster, your vaccine pass will cease to work.

Anyone who has had the booster shot will keep their valid pass, even if the gap between their second and third doses was more than four months.

People whose pass deactivates will no longer be able to access health pass venues, which include bars, cafés, restaurants, gyms, leisure centres, cinemas, theatres, tourist sites, large events, sports stadiums, nightclubs and long-distance trains.

READ ALSO What should I do if my pass deactivates?

The booster shot rules also affect tourists and visitors, so people vising from other countries will no longer be able to get a French vaccine pass unless they have had a booster shot if their initial vaccines were administered more than four months ago.

READ ALSO Your questions answered on France’s 4-month booster shot rule

Anyone living in France is eligible for a booster three months after their second vaccine dose.

At present, second boosters are being offered only to those in high risk groups. Health minister Olivier Véran told the Senate on Tuesday that he does not judge that a second booster is necessary for most people, and they are not required for the vaccine pass. 

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Where in France do you still need a face mask?

In France, masks will no longer be required on indoor transport as of Monday, May 16th. Here are rules and recommendations that are still in place:

Where in France do you still need a face mask?

Members of the public in France have been asked to wear face masks for the most part of two years, at times even outside in the street.

Since March 14th, 2022, the facial coverings have no longer been mandatory in most establishments such as shops, and as of Monday, May 16th, it will no longer be mandatory on indoor public transport. 

As of May 16th, you will therefore no longer be required to wear a mask in the following transports:

  • Buses and coaches
  • Subways and streetcars
  • RER and TER
  • TGV and interregional lines
  • Taxis

Regarding airplanes whether or not you must wear a mask is a bit more complicated.

On Wednesday, May 11th, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) announced that from May 16th onward it would no longer be required to wear a mask in airports and on board aircraft in the European Union. However, Germany has stated that it does not have the intention of lifting its requirement of wearing a mask on its airlines – this would include the Lufthansa airline. Thus, it will be necessary for passengers to still very to rules each airline has in place, which could be the case when travelling to a country that still has indoor mask requirements in place.

EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky specified that vulnerable people should continue to wear masks, and that “a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, to reassure those seated nearby.”

Masks still obligatory in medical settings

However, it will still be mandatory for caregivers, patients and visitors in health care facilities, specifically including hospitals, pharmacies, medical laboratories, retirement homes, and establishments for the disabled. 

For people who are vulnerable either due to their age or their status as immunocompromised, wearing a mask will continue to be recommended, though not required, particularly for enclosed spaces and in large gatherings.

Masks are also still recommended for people who test positive, people who might have come in contact with Covid-19, symptomatic people and healthcare professionals.

Will masks come back?

It is possible. French Health Minister Olivier Véran does not exclude the return of mandatory mask-wearing, should the health situation require it.

What are the other Covid-19 restrictions that remain in place?

The primary restriction that has not changed is the French government’s regulation for testing positive: If you are unvaccinated and test positive, isolation is still required for 10 days, if you are vaccinated, this requirement is seven days. Isolation can be reduced from 10 to 7 days or from 7 to 5 days if a negative covid test is performed, and symptoms are no longer present.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What Covid restrictions remain in place in France?

The French Health Ministry still recommends following sanitary measures such as: wearing a mask in places where it is still mandatory, hand washing, regular ventilation of rooms, coughing or sneezing into your elbow, and using a single-use handkerchief (tissue).