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France extends health pass, isolation rules reviewed: 6 Covid updates

Changes to contact tracing have also been recommended. It comes as the Delta variant in France continues to increase, a key factor in a 150% rise in Covid cases in a week

People wearing masks in a shopping centre. France extends health pass, isolation rules reviewed: 6 Covid updates

Rules for wearing masks are to be lifted in public spaces where health passes are being used, such as shopping centres Pic: faboi / Shutterstock

Several Covid rules are under review in France as cases of the Delta variant continue to rise, and new measures such as the health pass are extended. We explain.

1. Health pass in use for culture and leisure from today

Use of the French health pass (pass sanitaire) is being extended to cultural and leisure venues from today (July 21), including cinemas, museums, theme parks, sports facilities, places of worship, conference halls and other venues that can accommodate more than 50 people.

To enter these venues, pass holders will have to show a negative Covid-19 test result taken within 48 hours, proof of full vaccination or proof of having already been infected with Covid-19 and being considered immune. 

Explained: What changes with France’s Covid health pass on July 21

Protestors last week marched against extending the use of the health pass on the grounds that it was an attack on civil liberties. 

But Cédric O, junior minister for the digital economy, yesterday said that rising cases justified the move.

Mr O tweeted: “The situation is serious. Today the choice is simple – it is not the health pass or freedom, but the health pass or reconfinement.”

2: Isolation for contact cases

Rules for isolation for contact cases may change based on whether the contact case is fully vaccinated or not, Health Minister Olivier Véran has said.

He added: “What could happen is that when you are fully vaccinated, you are no longer contacted when you have been in contact with someone who has Covid-19. We will, no doubt, make changes to this rule.” 

Health advisory body le Haut Conseil de la Santé has also recommended changing contact tracing rules for fully vaccinated people. 

It said that people who are fully vaccinated could take a test to check they have not caught the virus, rather than automatically having to self-isolate.

3. Covid cases rise 150% in one week

Covid cases continue to rise in France. The health minister announced yesterday (July 20) that 18,000 cases had been reported in the past 24 hours, compared with an average of less than 7,000 daily cases last week.

The health minister said yesterday: “This means we have a rise in the circulation of the virus of 150% in one week.

“We have never seen this before; not with Covid [at the start of 2020], not with the UK variant nor with the South African or Brazilian variants.”

Weekly figures from Santé publique France from July 16 show that the Delta variant accounted for 55% of cases nationally, and 63% of cases in towns and cities.

The number of patients with Covid-19 in intensive care remains stable, at 876 on July 20.

But there has been a rise of 33% in admissions to critical care in the past week, with 36 patients with Covid admitted on July 20.

Hospital deaths are currently still decreasing.  

4. End to mask-wearing in places where health pass is needed

Obligatory mask-wearing is set to be phased out in spaces where people use a health pass to enter, the health minister has said.

However, prefects and site managers will have the right to enforce their own rules about mask-wearing as they see fit. 

The new rules will also only apply to visitors to these spaces – staff who work there will continue having to wear masks for the time being, the Employment Ministry said.

Read more: Masks not required in places where health pass is in use

5. New cluster of cases in Bordeaux nightclub

Bordeaux nightclub le Hangar has been identified as the source of a cluster of 81 cases among visitors to the club between July 9-13.

Social media posts have raised questions over whether or not the nightclub was checking health passes of those who entered, as it was supposed to. 

Three events, each with around 2,000 attendees, are being investigated. 

6. Constitutional experts consulted over new Covid rules

The Conseil constitutionnel will be consulted over the legality of new Covid rules such as making vaccination mandatory for healthcare workers and extending the use of the health pass, Prime Minister Jean Castex said yesterday. 

He told parliament: “The health pass is not an attack on people’s freedoms. I will consult the Conseil constitutionnel on the whole legal text.” 

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Five new Covid travel rules for France, UK quarantine included

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