French council allows vaccine pass, but not for political rallies

·1 min read

France's Constitutional Council has approved with conditions the government's controversial vaccine pass. From 24 January, people over 16 must show a certificate of vaccination to enter public places like restaurants, cinemas or inter-city trains.

The Council's ruling paves the way for the vaccine pass to take effect next Monday, replacing a health pass that showed proof of vaccination, a recent negative test or previous infection.

The Council upheld a contested provision allowing for bar and restaurant managers to check a person's identification alongside the pass to curb the use of fakes or certificates belonging to a third party.

But it overturned a requirement that vaccine passes be shown to attend political rallies. Coming less than three months before France holds its presidential election, the Council said such a provision would impinge on people's freedom to share views and opinions.

The Council also ruled that the pass should end as soon as it is no longer necessary.

The new pass is part of President Emmanuel Macron's drive to make life so difficult for the five million or so unvaccinated people in France that they are compelled to get Covid shots.

It has given new momentum to weekly street protests against Covid-related restrictions on public life, though the number of protestors remains small nationwide.

France reported more than 425,000 coronavirus infections on Thursday, as the fifth wave – driven by the highly-contagious Omicron variant – continues to keep case numbers high.

The government has nonetheless announced a gradual lifting of restrictions.

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