Unvaccinated people in France are no longer allowed to visit restaurants, bars, sports avenues and tourist destinations unless they have recently recovered from Covid, according to a law that came into force on Monday.
The “vaccine pass” is part of the Paris government’s bid to cap surging Covid cases, most of which are Omicron variant infections.
January has seen France register regular high numbers of daily infections, putting massive pressure on the country’s national health system.
In response, the government’s anti-Covid strategy has been to place great emphasis on the “vaccine pass” to fight the surge and avoid imposing harder lockdown restrictions. The law was approved by France’s parliament and Constitutional Council last week.
Since last summer, the rules required a “health pass” to go to any cafe, museum, cinema or take a regional train or domestic flight. The unvaccinated could still use the pass after getting a negative Covid test.
But from Monday, those who are neither fully vaccinated nor recently recovered from the virus are not be able to activate the pass.
Omicron is less likely to cause severe illness than the previous Delta variant, according to studies.
It spreads even more easily than other coronavirus strains and has already become dominant in many countries.
Omicron also more easily infects those who have been vaccinated or had previously been infected by prior versions of the virus.
More than 94 per cent of France’s adults have already had at least one dose of the anti-virus vaccine. Critics of the new law question whether it will be adequate to stop the surge in Covid cases, while others held rallies on Saturday to protest its remit.
Mass protests and sometimes violent marches remain the main tool for anti-vaxxer activists in France. More than 100,000 rallied recently against making the jab mandatory to visit social venues after president Emmanuel Macron said he wants to “piss off” the unvaccinated.
The government says it hopes the “vaccine pass” would protect the most vulnerable and encourage more people to get vaccinated. Most patients admitted to ICU’s are unvaccinated.
France, meanwhile, opened up access to booster shots to 12 to 17-year-olds on Monday.
Additional reporting by AP