Covid fifth wave: French government brings vaccine pass debate forward

The bill, which would see unvaccinated people effectively barred from public spaces such as restaurants, will now be presented to ministers next week

An image of a health pass being held up outside a restaurant terrace
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The French government has decided to accelerate moves to convert the country’s health pass into a vaccine pass, as the spread of the fifth Covid wave continues at a worrying pace.

Read more: Seven Q&As: where, when and how would France’s vaccine pass plan work

The vaccine pass bill seeks to eliminate the test option, and potentially the recovery certificate option, from the French health pass, meaning that – if it is adopted – people would only be allowed to access public spaces such as restaurants, bars and cinemas if they were fully vaccinated.

The Conseil des ministres (France’s Cabinet) was due to examine the bill on January 5 before it was passed for parliamentary debate and potentially made law. The process would have taken several days.

However, faced with the rapid spread of the fifth Covid wave and concerns surrounding the Omicron variant, the government will now present the bill to the Conseil des ministres next week, meaning that it willbe debated in the first week of January.

If it is approved, the vaccine pass requirement will therefore become law sooner than originally expected, towards the middle of January rather than the end.

Prime Minister Jean Castex has previously said that the vaccine pass measure would serve to “make the constraints on unvaccinated people weigh more heavily, as intensive care services in our hospitals are full, in general, of unvaccinated people.”

Health Minister Olivier Véran has also stated that health pass requirements could be extended to all places of work, meaning that unvaccinated members of staff would have to take a Covid test every day in order to go into the office.

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