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Is the Covid health pass really being enforced in France?

Interior ministry figures suggest that the health pass is being asked for much less now than two months ago, prompting calls to step up checks

Figures suggest that the health pass is being checked far less frequently now compared to previous weeks, despite it still being legally required Pic: Sylv1rob1 / Shutterstock

This week the government asked that health pass checks be stepped up as cases of Covid continue to rise in France. But how much are checks really being done, and is the health pass being respected?

On instruction from President Emmanuel Macron, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin this week requested that local prefects work to enforce health pass checks in their local areas, in response to rising Covid cases nationwide. 

Yet, CNews has highlighted that checks appear to have halved in the past few weeks, and has questioned how much the passes are being used in reality.

Mr Darmanin told Europe 1: “Given the rise in incidence levels [number of cases per 100,000 people], the President of the Republic has asked me to ask prefects, police and gendarmerie to start checking more, as they did before.”

Prefects have been asked to “target the establishments that have been identified as not respecting the rules” and asking them to “prove they are conforming”, a statement from the minister continued.

Doubts over the enforcement of the health pass

There have been doubts over how frequently the health pass is being checked by the respective establishments, hence Mr Darmanin’s request to step up checks again.

He said: “We had about 50,000 people being checked each week at around 8,000 establishments in September, but if I look at the figures from last week, it was about half.”

News programme 20 Heures found that several Parisian bars were no longer checking the pass as often or stringently as they had before. 

It found eight bars that were not checking the pass, of which only two were later questioned by police. And, after placing hidden cameras on the terraces of three establishments, it found that no health passes were checked.

It comes after President Macron addressed the nation in a speech update on the Covid situation on Tuesday, November 9, and said that people aged 65 and over would see their health pass expire six months and five weeks after their second vaccine dose, unless they have a booster jab.

Read more: France mandatory Covid booster jab from December: Who does it concern?

Disciplinary action against anti-pass lawyer

In the same week, it was reported that Paris legal authorities had launched disciplinary action against anti-health pass lawyer Fabrice Di Vizio. His social media posts – including those opposed to compulsory vaccination for healthcare workers – are set to be considered as part of the action.

Fabrice Di Vizio is equally known for being the lawyer of professor Didier Raoult, the controversial infectious disease expert.
Read more: Outspoken Marseille doctor-professor Didier Raoult, 69, must retire

President of the Bar, Olivier Cousi, confirmed to AFP that the Paris Bar Council had started proceedings. 

The Council has the power to impose sanctions, including a ban on practicing. 

Mr Di Vizio alleges that he has not been informed of this procedure, which he has called “unacceptable”. He said: “They are finally coming after me, even though they have never listened to me before.”

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