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COVID-19

France could end vaccine pass requirement ‘by March’

People in France may no longer need to hold a Covid-19 vaccine pass from the end of March, government spokesman Gabriel Attal has suggested - a week before up to five million passes are set to be deactivated.

France could end vaccine pass requirement 'by March'
France's Covid-19 vaccine pass could be phased out as soon as the end of March, government spokesman Gabriel Attal has suggested Photo: Joel Saget / AFP

The pass – required for entry to a wide range of venues including bars, restaurants, ski lifts, tourist sites and long-distance trains – could be scrapped as soon as March, said Attal.

But the news will come as scant comfort to between four and five million people in France who have not had a booster and will therefore have their pass deactivated from next week.

As Covid-19 cases fall in France, Attal indicated that the end of the vaccine pass requirement may be nigh.

“The number of cases is down 35 percent, the reproduction rate of the virus is now 0.77 – this shows that the epidemic is regressing,” he said after the weekly Council of Ministers at the Elysée Palace.

“But let’s be careful not to boast,” he cautioned. “Hospitals remain under tension.”

Health minister Oliver Véran had previously suggested that the pass could be scrapped by July.

Attal confirmed that nightclubs can reopen, as already scheduled, from Wednesday, February 16th, and said: “There are reasons to hope that by this time horizon the situation will have improved sufficiently for us to be able to lift its final measures.” 

The “time horizon” to which he referred is understood to mean the period around the end of March and beginning of April. 

Professor Alain Fischer, président of the conseil d’orientation de la stratégie vaccinale, which advises the government, had earlier suggested a similar timeline.

Questioned in the Senate on Wednesday, Fischer clarified the conditions which must be met for the the government to officially signal the end of the vaccine pass requirement. “We need a reduced incidence rate. That means at least 10 or 20 times lower than today, and – above all – that the current hospital overload has disappeared.”

He went on: “If people get vaccinated and follow the rules, by the end of March to April, I hope we will reach this situation.”  

Health Minister Olivier Véran had also alluded to the possibility of bringing forward the end date for passes. On February 2nd, he told BFMTV:  “The end  [of the vaccine pass], we know it, it’s July. But if we can remove the pass before, we will.”

But the reduced deadline for getting a booster dose, which was cut from seven to four months, means that up to five million people could see their older health passes deactivated from Tuesday, February 15th, and there are not enough available vaccination slots for everyone to get a third jab in time.

From that date  anyone over 18 will have to receive a booster if their second dose was more than four months ago.

This applies to both residents of France and tourists.

Find full details on the booster shot requirement HERE.

Member comments

  1. Inevitable. First because of the election and second because Macron would never let Britain steal a march on ending all restrictions.

  2. It is good that European countries are putting behind them the Covid rules and regulations, give us a bit of freedom.

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COVID-19 RULES

Covid rules and vaccine pass: What changes in France on Wednesday

This week in France there are two big Covid-related changes - the second phase in the relaxation of health rules and changes to the vaccine pass validity. Here's what you need to know.

Covid rules and vaccine pass: What changes in France on Wednesday

It is a busy week in terms of changes to Covid policy in France, with Wednesday marking the latest phase in the gradual relaxation of the rules.

Here’s what changes;

Wednesday

  • Wider relaxation of Covid rules 

A number of Covid rules are being scrapped, which will be of huge relief to those working in the nightlife and cultural sector. 

Nightclubs will be open once again from Wednesday and cafés and bars will no longer be limited to table-service, meaning you will be able to drink at the bar and even have a boogie if you wish. 

Concerts and music gigs can also take place once again.

People will once again be allowed to eat in cinemas and sports grounds, as well as on trains and planes.

You can find the full calendar of upcoming changes HERE.

Several other changes have already come into force this week;

Monday

  • Vaccination centres told to show flexibility to unvaccinated

The health ministry sent a memo to vaccination centres on Monday, instructing them to allow people using fake health passes to wipe the record clean and initiate a real vaccination cycle. 

Up until Monday, people using fake passes had 30 days to inform a vaccination centre and receive their shots without facing legal consequences.

This 30 day limit no longer applies – and those working at vaccination sites no longer need to inform law enforcement authorities of people who were using fake passes. 

Tuesday

  • Vaccine pass rules change

Booster shots are now necessary for most people who want to hold a valid vaccine pass – which is required to use a wide range of venues including bars, cafés, ski lifts and tourist sites. 

Up until now, vaccine passes automatically deactivated if it has been more than seven months since your second dose and you have not yet received a booster shot. But on Tuesday, this time limit dropped to four months. Anyone who already had the booster is fine, even if their gap between second and third doses is more than four months.

READ ALSO Your questions answered about France’s new 4-month booster shot rule

Bear in mind that in certain circumstances, proof of previous infection from Covid means you would not have to receive a booster dose to carry on holding a valid vaccine pass. 

READ MORE If you’ve had Covid you may not need a booster for your vaccine pass

You can still use proof of recent recovery from Covid in lieu of being fully vaccinated as a condition to hold the health pass. But instead of lasting for six months, the validity of recent recovery drops to just four months on Tuesday. Remember that you can receive a booster once three months have passed since your infection. Full details on how to use recovery certificates HERE.

Finally, when the government introduced the vaccine pass, it offered an incentive to unvaccinated people to receive their first shot by saying that anyone who received their first dose between January 15th – February 15th would be able to use a negative Covid test to access vaccine pass venues. This exemption ends on Tuesday and now the vaccine pass requires everyone to have a full vaccination course, with seven days after the second dose.

  • Home-test kits withdrawn from supermarkets

Supermarkets are no longer able to sell Covid home-test kits (autotests) – you will now only be able to find these products in pharmacies. Over the New Year period, supermarkets were granted a license to sell these kits in order to allow for better  monitoring of the fifth wave. 

The maximum price of a Covid self-test is limited by the French government at €5.20, but many supermarkets were selling them for much cheaper prices.

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