PARIS – France’s Constitutional Council on Friday approved – with conditions – the country’s new COVID-19 vaccine pass, which will require people aged 16 and above to show proof of vaccination to enter public places like bars, restaurants and cinemas.
The new pass is part of President Emmanuel Macron’s drive to make life difficult enough for the small minority of unvaccinated people that they are compelled to get COVID shots.
The Council’s ruling paves the way for the vaccine pass to take effect on Jan. 24, replacing a health pass that showed proof of vaccination, a recent negative test or past infection.
The Council upheld the government’s wish that anyone over 16 be required to show a vaccine pass as well as a provision in the legislation 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 the old health pass be required to attend political rallies. Coming less than three months before an election, the Council said such a provision would impinge on people’s freedom to share views and opinions.
The vaccine pass has brought new momentum to weekly street protests against COVID-related restrictions on public life.
Some people resisting the vaccine say they have been made to feel like second-class citizens by Macron.
France reported more than 425,000 coronavirus infections on Thursday and hospitals says the large majority of COVID patients in intensive care are unvaccinated.
(This story corrects to show Council overturned requirement a ‘health pass’, not ‘vaccine pass’, be required for political meetings)
(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by GV De Clercq, Richard Lough and Hugh Lawson)