On January 24, a new vaccine pass will become mandatory for access to venues including restaurants, leisure centres, pubs and long-distance travel
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 “lift most of the restrictions”, according to French prime minister Jean Castex. The measure drew vocal criticism from politicians like former National Front politician Florian Philippot, who took to social media to tear down the new COVID-19 guidance announced by Mr Castex earlier this week.
Comparing the French government’s policies with those of the UK and other countries of the European Union, Mr Philippot slammed Mr Macron’s navigation of the pandemic.
The nationalist Les Patriotes party leader tweeted: “End of all restrictions in Ireland! It’s everywhere!
“This global wind of freedom will sweep away the ugly Macronist Pass! Let’s stand up and resist!”
On Friday, the French Constitutional Council approved the vaccine pass – but with conditions.
The council scrapped the requirement for a vaccine pass at political rallies, saying this could impact freedom of opinion and expression with less than three months to go before elections in France.
Mr Philippot said: “The Constitutional Council validates the Vaccine Pass including the identity check!
“France is officially a tyranny! This council must disappear as soon as possible for high treason!”
The introduction of the vaccine pass coincides with the offering of a COVID-19 vaccine to all children aged between 12 and 17 on Monday.
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Mr Castex, addressing the media, said: “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.”
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, enabling France to reopen after the height of the Omicron wave.
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.
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The changes mean that from January 24, the compulsory work from home order will be dropped, followed just over a fortnight later by the reopening of nightclubs.
The same day will see the return of standing areas for concerts and sports, as well as in French bars.
The public will once again be allowed to consume food and drink in theatres, stadiums and public transport from February 16.
Unsatisfied with the change of measures, Mr Philippot said: “So while the United Kingdom is living totally normally, in France we are told that on 16 February (!) we may be able to eat ‘standing up’ again in restaurants (with the vaccine pass of course)! Madness!”
In all parts of the UK, COVID-19 restrictions put in place over the Christmas period to tackle the Omicron wave are being loosened.
On Wednesday, Boris Johnson confirmed that England will now move from Plan B, which was instated on December 13, to a state of further freedom.
The order to work from home has already been dropped, with Mr Johnson saying that “because of the extraordinary booster campaign, we can return to Plan A in England and allow Plan B regulations to expire”.
For those in England, Plan A means an end to facemask requirements and mandatory COVID-19 passes disappearing, although venues do have the choice whether to implement them or not.
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.