Covid pass now compulsory for French restaurants and trains
The French law on its anti-Covid health pass came into force on Monday, which means that many activities now require a QR code proving that the carrier has received two vaccines, tested negative in the previous 72 hours or recently recovered from the Covid-19.
Those who break the law face a fine of € 135. Three fraudulent uses of a health certificate in one month can result in six months in prison and a fine of € 3,750. Managers of restaurants and other establishments who do not check health cards more than three times in 45 days are liable to one year in prison and a fine of € 9,000.
The government promised to be flexible for a week.
President Emmanuel Macron has maintained his strategy despite protest marches on four consecutive Saturdays. An estimated 237,000 people demonstrated across the country against the health pass on August 7. Such participation is unusual for the summer vacation period, but it is tiny compared to the 44 million French people who received at least one jab.
The Minister of Health Olivier Véran regretted that “the millions of French people who respected the barrier gestures, paid attention to their relatives and were vaccinated” attracted much less attention than “the magma of people who are anti -state, anti-science and anti-vaccines ”.
Studies show that the protesters come from the same fringe of the disadvantaged, often rural and far-right population that generated the yellow vests movement in 2018-2019.
Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right National Rally, said Monday: “The French are under house arrest.” She denounced “the liberticidal and discriminatory decision of the Macron regime” and “a coercive system of generalized surveillance”.
A meme on social media shows the face of dictator Kim Jong-un. “North Korea offers political asylum to the French fleeing the dictatorship,” he said.
The health pass is compulsory in cinemas, museums, theme parks and sports facilities since July 21 for events of more than 50 people. This threshold has been dropped and the pass is now mandatory to access all restaurants and bars, including the outdoor café terraces.
Restaurant staff say the law threatens a profession already severely penalized by the pandemic. They loudly complain that they “are not gendarmes”. They must download the “TousAntiCovid Verified” application which allows them to scan QR codes with a smartphone. But only the security forces have the power to verify identity papers, so individuals can easily present a photocopy of someone else’s pass.
As often happens in France, the application of the law risks being compromised by its complexity and by a plethora of deadlines and exceptions.
Guests at hotels must present the pass to access public areas, including restaurants, bars, swimming pools, and health clubs. B & Bs and campsites do not require a package.
Places of worship are exempt, unless they are used for concerts or conferences, in which case the pass is mandatory. Take-out food vendors, bakeries, grocery stores, tearooms and restaurants for truck drivers and railway employees are also exempt.
The Constitutional Council left the obligation of a pass to enter a shopping center of more than 20,000 square meters at the discretion of the commune prefect.
The pass is compulsory for long journeys by train, plane or coach. But the Eurostar, regional trains, local buses and subways are exceptions. You need a pass to enter a hospital or nursing home, but not for emergencies or an appointment with your attending physician.
The pass is not compulsory for weddings in private homes or in churches, but it is compulsory in rented premises and in town halls where civil ceremonies take place.
Certain aspects of the health pass requirement are subject to different timelines. Employees of premises open to the public are not required to obtain passes before August 30. If they don’t, they will be suspended without pay until the requirement expires on or after November 15th. The pass will be required for most trips until June 30, 2022.
Healthcare workers have until September 15 to receive their first dose of the vaccine and until October 15 to receive the second. The pass will be required for all teens as of September 30.