British holidaymakers visiting France face being banned from attractions unless they have proof of a Covid-19 vaccination, or recent negative test, under Emmanuel Macron’s strict new coronavirus passport scheme.
The French health pass has already been required at the likes of cinemas, museums and theatres since 21 July, but has now been extended to include a wider range of venues.
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How does the health pass work?
As of Monday (9 August), the health pass will be needed to dine in a restaurant, enjoy a drink in a bar or cafe, including on an outdoor terrace, and on intercity transport, such as high-speed trains and domestic flights.
However, it will not be required for use of the metro system and suburban transport.
The new scheme makes it mandatory to be either fully vaccinated against Covid-19, have proof of a negative test, or have recently recovered from coronavirus to enjoy access to such venues.
Tourists visiting France will be required to load a digital QR code from the NHS onto the French coronavirus app to prove their vaccination status, or recent negative test result.
Customers who refuse to show the ‘health pass’ face being fined, with costs starting at £115 (€135) and rising to as much as £3,000 (€3,750), or a six-month prison term, for repeat offenders.
Businesses can also be landed with a fine of £1,300 (€1,500), or a temporary closure, if they fail to check customers’ vaccine passports before allowing them entry.
Fines can increase to as much as £7,600 (€9,000) and a year-long prison term for any business found breaking the rules more than three times.
The health pass will be required in France until 15 November and has been introduced to avoid the need for further lockdown restrictions in the country.
President Macron hopes the rules will encourage more people to get vaccinated against Covid-19 to help prevent further infections from the rapidly-spreading Delta variant.
The president has used the social media platform TikTok in recent days to help get the message across, urging people to get vaccinated to ensure freedom from restrictions.
In a video message posted on Friday (6 August), he said: “Get vaccinated. Get vaccinated. Get vaccinated.
“It’s a question of being a good citizen … our freedom is worth nothing if we infect our friends, neighbours or grandparents. To be free is to be responsible.”
Protests from citizens
Since the health pass was announced, the vaccine programme has seen a boost in France with almost 55 per cent of the population now fully vaccinated.
However, the scheme has caused outrage among French citizens with thousands of people taking to the streets of Paris in protest.
Citizens have lined the streets en masse over the past weeks to oppose the scheme, arguing the rules encroach on civil liberties and will fuel divides across society.
Police in the French capital used tear gas to disperse large crowds protesting against the new health pass for the third weekend in a row, while water cannons were used to ward off the thousands gathered at the Champs-Elysees and the Place de la Bastille.
However, despite the protests, the introduction of the health pass has led to a boost in vaccinations across the country.
In the fortnight after President Macron announced that the health pass would be extended to restaurants, bars and other public venues, almost five million people received their first dose, while six million received their second dose.
The boost came after demand for vaccination had been waning for several weeks.
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