France on track to relax vaccine pass rules within weeks

The country’s health minister said today that the pass could be scrapped for ‘all or some places’ where it is currently required

A vaccine pass has been in place in France since January 24
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France is on course to end the need to show a Covid vaccine pass in some or all places where it currently applies in the next two to three weeks maximum, the country’s health minister Olivier Véran said today (February 22).

He did not specify which places he meant if the requirement to show the pass is only dropped in certain places.

He said the relaxation of vaccine pass measures would depend on certain targets being met.

These are:

  • The number of patients in intensive care units due to Covid drops to around 1,500

  • The R number (the number of people infected per each positive case) remains below 1 for a sustained period

  • The incidence rate (number of positive cases per 100,000 people per week) drops to around 300 - 500 maximum

In France today, the situation is the following:

  • There are 2,905 patients in intensive care due to Covid (this is a 12% drop from last week)

  • The R number is 0.63

  • The incidence rate (as of February 18, latest figures) is 884 and is dropping

Mr Véran added that the Omicron variant, which is now the dominant strain in France, should not be taken lightly as the number of daily deaths linked to Covid remains high.

An average of 227 people have died each day in hospital due to Covid over the past week, a drop of 14% from the week before.

Read more: France Covid: ‘We are at the start of a new era,’ says expert

Covid rules being gradually stripped back

France began relaxing Covid rules on February 2 with the requirement to wear masks in outdoor spaces dropped.

Measures were further relaxed on February 16, including the easing of bans on standing concerts and on eating and drinking in certain public venues and on transport services.

Read more:Concerts, train food - three Covid rule changes in France

From February 28, it will no longer be necessary to wear a mask inside restaurants, cafes, gyms, cinemas or other places subject to the pass

Read more: Where face masks will no longer be needed in France from February 28

If the latest targets set out by Mr Véran are met, then the vaccine pass could disappear entirely by mid-March.

The rule change would come around one month before France’s presidential election, with the first round of voting to take place on April 10.

The vaccine pass was first introduced on January 24. It could technically remain in place without changes to current legislation until July 31, when the state of health emergency (état d'urgence sanitaire) is set to end.

It means that people are required to show proof of being fully vaccinated against Covid or having recently recovered from it in order to enter the majority of leisure-orientated public venues, such as restaurants and cafes.