France's New COVID-19 Vaccine Pass Begins Monday

Carolyn Crist

January 24, 2022

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

France's new COVID-19 vaccine pass goes into effect on Monday, requiring ages 16 and older to show proof of vaccination to enter public places such as bars, restaurants, sports events, theaters, museums, entertainment venues and domestic flights and trains.

The COVID-19 vaccine pass is replacing a health pass that allowed people to show proof of vaccination, a recent negative test or past infection.

The vaccine pass "clearly puts constraints on the unvaccinated," French Prime Minister Jean Castex said during a press conference on Thursday.

However, it is "necessary if we want to preserve and increase our vaccination coverage in the event of new variants," he said.

Also starting Monday, children between ages 12-17 will be eligible for a booster shot. Those between ages 12-15 will continue to be required to show the health pass to access restaurants, entertainment venues and interregional public transportation.

Some vaccine pass exceptions are planned for those who have recently recovered from COVID-19. The new vaccine pass could also be suspended if infections drop sharply and hospitals are no longer burdened, Castex said.

In coming weeks, France will loosen some coronavirus restrictions as cases begin to decline. The Omicron variant surge is waning, but more than 300,000 new cases are still being reported each day and hospitalizations remain high, so the government plans to keep restrictions in place for at least another week.

Starting Feb. 2, people will no longer be required to work from home at least three days per week or wear a mask outdoors. Audience capacity limits for concert halls, sporting matches and other events will also be lifted.

On Feb. 16, nightclubs will reopen after being shut down since December. People will also be allowed to eat and drink in stadiums, cinemas and on public transportation.

After the vaccine pass was announced, more than 1 million adults got their first vaccine shot, the AP reported. About 92% of French adults are fully vaccinated, and 94% have received at least one dose.

The current wave of COVID-19 infections will likely remain at high — but manageable — levels until mid-March, and French officials believe the Omicron variant will peak soon.

"This exceptional wave is not over, but its waning effects are a positive sign," Castex said.

Sources:

The Associated Press: "French premier says vaccine pass to go into effect Monday."

France 24: "France announces loosening of some Covid-19 measures in February."

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