On Friday November 5th, the French Parliament has definitively adopted the bill of “health vigilance”. After a final vote of the National Assembly, the bill authorizes the government to use the Health Pass until July 31, 2022. One of the outcomes of that meeting of the National Assembly is that most non-EU travelers coming to France might need to apply for a Health Pass at a cost of up to 36 euros. Individuals who have been vaccinated in a country that signed up to the EU digital Covid certificate program might be exempted from this requirement.
According to Lonely Planet, individuals who were vaccinated outside the EU must now apply for a French Health Pass in person at a dedicated pharmacy in France. The fee to have the certificate converted into a French Health Pass is in the range of €36 (about US$44). Not all pharmacies offer the service so it would be important to verify in advance.
French authorities have stated that people vaccinated in the UK can import their NHS QR code into the TousAntiCovid app. A digital or paper NHS certificate showing full vaccine status may also be presented.
From July 21st, France made it obligatory to show a Health Pass (passe sanitaire), for access to public venues for more than 50 people. Since August 9th, the Health Pass requirement was extended to a range of new settings, including long-distance transport, restaurants and cafés, even France’s famed outdoor terraces.
France’s Health Pass is a certificate of complete vaccination or recovery or a negative Covid test. By increasing the places and situations where the heath pass is required, France is following the example set by Denmark and Hungary, which were the first to impose a health pass.
In addition to the possible extension of the health pass until the summer, the bill of “health vigilance” provides for the tightening of penalties for fraud in the health pass and the extension of the state of health emergency until July 2022. It also opens the possibility for school directors to have access to the vaccination status of their students.
The Constitutional Council considered that the provisions on the school component of the “health vigilance” bill were a “disproportionate infringement of the right to privacy”. On the other hand, they considered that the maintenance of the pass until the summer operated “a balanced conciliation” between the objective of health protection and respect of rights and liberties.
The state of health emergency for metropolitan France, a kind of toolbox available to the government, can be activated by the government until the end of July. This allows, for example, the use of heavy measures to limit contamination during the Covid-19 epidemic, such as confinement or a curfew.
The health vigilance law provided that, until the end of the school year, school principals and heads of secondary schools could have access to information on the virological status of their students, any contacts with infected persons and their vaccination status. This was done in order to fight the spread of the epidemic, in particular to prevent class closures or to organize vaccination campaigns. But according to the decision of the legal body, this will not be the case.