On January 24, a new vaccine pass will become mandatory for access to venues including restaurants, leisure centres, pubs and long-distance travel across the country. It replaces the existing health pass, applicable to those over 16 years old, and it is hoped that the vaccine pass will enable the government to “list most of the restrictions”, according to Prime Minister Jean Castex. It coincides with all the offering of a COVID-19 vaccine to all children aged between 12 and 17 on Monday.
Mr Castex announced: “For 12-17 year olds, the opening of the booster vaccination was decided for those with chronic pathologies, as many countries around us have done, I announce that we will extend this possibility of a booster vaccination for all, but without obligation, from next Monday.”
Addressing the media on Thursday, Mr Castex said France was starting to turn the corner with COVID-19 infections, and this allowed for the peeling back of restrictions on freedoms.
He said that the new vaccine pass supported these relaxations, provided the Constitutional Council voted to approve it.
He hinted at the possibility of the pass being scrapped if there was a dramatic change in the terrain with COVID-19 – something qualified by health minister Olivier Véran, who warned this decision hinged on pressure on the health services.
The decision to ease restrictions whilst introducing the vaccine pass attracted ire from politicians criticising the logic behind Mr Macron’s government’s announcement.
Loïc Hervé, senator for the eastern French region of Haute-Savoie took to Twitter to demand the scrapping of compulsory vaccine passes in France.
He said: “We lift all the measures, but we keep the Vaccine Pass? Pure delirium!
“The best announcement from CASTEX and VERAN tonight would be that of abandoning the Health Pass and the Vaccine Pass, following the example of the UK.
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“It has no connection with reality.”
This comes as the Senate resolved on Thursday to investigate the “adequacy of the vaccine pass to the evolution of the COVID-19 epidemic”.
The other measures the French people will see repealed include the mandatory work from home order, which was put back in place in December to stem the tide of the Omicron wave.
Mr Castex commented that, from 2 February, working from home “will no longer be compulsory”, but will remain advised.
Currently, guidelines say that home working is compulsory three out of four days during the working week wherever possible.
From February 2, it will no longer be a requirement to wear a face-covering outdoors, following by the reopening of nightclubs two weeks later.
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.