People in France will probably only need to present their Covid-19 health pass before entering large shopping centres over 20,000m2 the government has said; it is thought smaller centres will not need the pass.
Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said in Le Journal du Dimanche today (July 18) that the rule was likely to come into force.
It comes after President Emmanuel Macron announced on Monday, July 12, that the health pass will be needed to enter a wide range of public spaces that can accommodate over 50 people by early August, including restaurants, cinemas, shopping centres, gyms and for long-distance travel within France.
Mr Le Maire today said: "I would like to reassure business leaders that we will show understanding. We are proposing that only the largest shopping centres, with a surface area of more than 20,000 square metres, will be affected. A consensus on this threshold is within reach.”
There are around 400 shopping centres with a floor area of more than 20,000m2 in France.
The threshold has precedent; the same limit of 20,000m2 was first imposed when the government closed shops during lockdown. It was later lowered to 10,000m2.
The government is set to discuss the issue tomorrow (July 19) and decide on the measure in the next few days.
Over the past week heads of commercial centres have been debating the subject with the government in order to decide how and where the health pass will be required.
Jacques Creyssel, from business group la Fédération du Commerce et de la Distribution, told BFM Business: “How can we check in shops? It should be at the entrance of the centre.”
Mr Le Maire said: “The health pass will not affect the turnover of the sectors concerned which we are continuing to support throughout the summer thanks to the solidarity fund. Presenting a QR code only takes a few seconds and protects against the risk of contamination.”
No checks, no financial aid
The minister said that there will be sanctions for centres and shops that do not comply, and those who repeatedly flaunt the rules will no longer be eligible for government financial support.
Mr Le Maire said: “It would be unfair for those who respect the rules, and who check health passes at the entrance to their establishment, to be penalised by those who do not.
"Sanctions must be dissuasive, they must not be excessive. It will be up to MPs to debate this on the basis of the government's proposal and the draft law that will be presented to the Conseil des ministres tomorrow.
“We have always made it clear that those who do not respect the rules will no longer be eligible for the solidarity fund.”
Protests have taken place against the extension of the health pass requirements in recent days, including by almost 114,000 people across France yesterday (July 17).
President Macron has defended the decision, saying: “Should I close restaurants and cinemas again because some people choose to not get vaccinated? To these people I say: You cannot have the same rights because you have not taken on the same responsibilities.
“I don’t consider that taking away people’s freedoms. It is simply a reminder that in a nation, freedom implies responsibility.”