France’s lower house of parliament on Sunday gave final approval to the government’s latest measures to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic, including a vaccine pass that will exclude unvaccinated people from restaurants, sports arenas and other arenas. Jowhartakes a look at some of the details of the new measures at issue.
The current health pass will be a “vaccine pass” for people over the age of 16 and tough penalties for fake passports are some of the new measures approved by the French National Assembly over the weekend.
The controversial new bill was voted 215 in favor and 58 against, paving the way for the law to enter into force in the coming days.
Here are some of the key provisions in the bill that aim to “strengthen the tools to deal with the health crisis”.
Evidence of vaccination
Article 1 of the forthcoming law requires proof of Covid-19 vaccination status for persons aged 16 and over, instead of the current health pass, in order to have access to leisure activities, restaurants and pubs (in addition to collective catering), trade fairs, seminars and fairs as well as long-distance public transport (flights, trains, buses).
However, there is an exception to the transport rule for persons without a vaccine card who travel for “compelling family or health reasons” – for example a dying relative – provided that a negative test is presented, “except in emergencies”.
Under certain conditions, employees in certain sectors will need to have such a passport.
A simple health pass (negative test, full vaccination certificate or recovery certificate) will remain valid for people over 12 years of age to access health facilities and medical-social services, except in emergencies, whether for patients or those accompanying them.
Minors between the ages of 12 and 15 will continue to need to present their current health pass to gain access to leisure activities, restaurants and bars, trade fairs or interregional public transport.
Booster four months after the previous dose
Organizers of political meetings can introduce a requirement for health passes from participants.
For other halls and arenas, the rules of public access may take into account the “health situation” and “characteristics” of these places, in particular their capacity. Large gatherings are currently limited to a capacity of 2,000 people indoors and 5,000 outdoors.
To get the new vaccine passport, a complete schedule is required (two doses or one, depending on the vaccine). From 15 February, a booster dose will be required four months – and not the existing seven months – after the previous dose in order for the passport to remain valid.
In certain circumstances to be defined by decree, and in the name of “public health interest”, it may be required that both evidence of vaccination status and a negative test be presented.
The vaccination card should take effect within the next few days. However, subject to a decision by the Conseil constitutionnel, France’s highest constitutional authority, local prefects could adjust the date, especially in overseas territories where the vaccination rate is lower.
Strict controls against fraud
Following alarming reports of unvaccinated people buying fake health cards, the new law has tough provisions to crack down on perpetrators.
In addition to the police, managers of passport-required premises and activities – such as cafés and restaurants – will be able to check these passports, but under very limited conditions. So, “when there are serious reasons to believe that the document being presented is not related to the person presenting it”, “an official photographic document” may be requested.
Presenting a passport belonging to someone else and handing over a passport to someone else for fraudulent use now becomes a crime punishable by a fixed fine of 1,000 euros for the first crime, compared to the current 135 euros.
Possession of several false passports is punishable by five years’ imprisonment plus a fine of 75,000 euros.
If a person commits to a vaccination program, there can be no penalty for a fake passport.
For owners and operators of establishments requiring a vaccine passport, failure to implement the measures would result in a fine of EUR 1,000.
Companies that do not follow the rules for work in the home can be subject to administrative fines of up to EUR 500 per employee, up to a maximum of EUR 50,000.
( Jowharwith AFP)