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France imposes health pass for restaurants, gyms, shopping, hospitals

pass sanitaire
France's "pass sanitaire" or health pass.

The new French law extending the use of the health pass (pass sanitaire) to a wider range of public places will enter into force on Aug. 9 to help the country battle with the fourth Covid-19 wave, the French government’s spokesperson Gabriel Attal said on Wednesday.

“The health pass is a small tool that can save many lives. It is the best way to protect our freedom and ensure that our country remains open,” Attal told the press after a cabinet meeting.

Under the law, only people who have completed their vaccination, tested negative or recently recovered from COVID-19 will be allowed to enter restaurants and cafes, and go to shopping centers, gyms and even hospitals except for emergencies.

The use of the health pass has been compulsory since July 21 in cultural and leisure venues (cinemas, museums, etc.) where more than 50 people gather.

“Thanks to the vaccine we will be able to avoid a strong rush to hospitals in August,” Attal said.

Warning that “the sanitary situation continues to worsen and remains worrying,” he urged his hesitating compatriots to get vaccinated.

To date, 50.5 per cent of the French population — 34 million people — have completed their vaccination against Covid-19.

On Tuesday, the number of new daily infections hit a three-month high at 26,871, the health authorities said. Coronavirus-related hospitalizations have increased for the third day in a row. A total of 7,137 people were hospitalized, 978 of them in intensive care.

A faster vaccine rollout pushed by the health pass extension can have a significant impact on how the infections will peak, according to the latest models published by the Institut Pasteur, the country’s leading center for biomedical research, on Monday.

A combination of vaccination and barrier gestures (measures people can take to reduce the risk of infection) will make it possible to keep the fourth COVID-19 wave, projected for September, at bay, the institute said.

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