France enforces vaccine passports for over-18s visiting museums and cultural venues

Controversial “health pass” introduced to fight a fourth wave of Covid-19 infections driven by the Delta variant

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All over-18s in France must provide digital or paper proof of health to access leisure and cultural venues with more than 50 people Photo : Thomas Ulrich / Pixabay

All over-18s in France must provide digital or paper proof of health to access leisure and cultural venues with more than 50 people Photo : Thomas Ulrich / Pixabay

Visitors to French museums and cultural venues must show proof of Covid-19 vaccination, a negative test or recent recovery from the virus after the government introduced a controversial “health pass” to fight a fourth wave of infections driven by the Delta variant.

A decree passed on 19 July and effective from 21 July requires all over-18s to provide digital or paper proof of health to access leisure and cultural venues with more than 50 people, including museums, exhibitions, fairs, concerts, cinemas, festivals and nightclubs. The pass was initially introduced on 9 June for large events of more than 1,000 people.

The policy means that adults must either be fully vaccinated against Covid-19, have received a negative PCR or antigen test result in the previous 48 hours or have tested positive between 11 days and six months earlier, indicating their immunity. The government has postponed an extension of the pass to 12-17 year-olds until 30 August, allowing more time to complete the vaccine rollout in younger age groups.

Digital passes are hosted on the smartphone app TousAntiCovid, where vaccine certificates and test results from France and elsewhere in the EU can be uploaded via a QR code. According to the Musée du Louvre website, tourists from outside the EU can still enter the museum with a negative PCR or antigen test result from the previous 48 hours.

The decree states that face masks are no longer a legal requirement for visitors in venues using the health pass, but local government officials and site managers may enforce mask-wearing at their discretion. The websites of the popular Louvre, Orsay and Pompidou museums in Paris specify that masks are still mandatory for all visitors over the age of 11. Venue staff must also continue to wear masks, the labour ministry has said.

By the end of the week, lawmakers are due to vote on plans to apply the health pass in cafés, restaurants, shopping centres, hospitals and care homes, and for long-distance journeys by plane, train and bus from 1 August. Announced by President Emmanuel Macron on 12 July, the move has sparked a surge in vaccine bookings as well as protests in major cities against what has been called a “health dictatorship”.

UPDATE: On 22 July, Italy followed France’s lead as prime minister Mario Draghi approved a new decree making a “green pass” mandatory from 6 August for everyone over the age of 12 to enter museums, cultural venues, festivals, sports events and facilities and indoor areas of restaurants. Unlike the French pass, the Italian system only requires people to have received their first vaccine dose or a negative test result from the previous 48 hours. Venue owners and users face fines of between €400 and €1,000 for non-compliance with the rules; a business could be shut down for up to ten days for repeated violations.

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