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France implements Covid-19 health pass despite protests

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People in France now need to show a health pass to enjoy usually routine activities such as sipping a coffee in a cafe or travelling on an intercity train, in a plan championed by President Emmanuel Macron to squeeze Covid-19 infections and encourage vaccination.

The government is pressing ahead with the extension of an already-existing health pass to cafes, restaurants and intercity travel on Monday, despite four weekends of angry protests that saw almost a quarter of a million rally nationwide on Saturday.

Macron, who has expressed exasperation with the protests, hopes that the plan will help ramp up vaccinations and quell the fourth wave of coronavirus in France in a strategy similar to that of EU neighbours such as Italy and Germany.

The health pass is generated in a QR code either by a full course of vaccinations, a recent negative virus test or a recovery from Covid-19. The government expects a one-week grace period for consumers and businesses to get used to the new rules.

“The pass and the vaccination drive should help us avoid new curfews and lockdowns,” Health Minister Olivier Véran told French daily Le Parisien.

The numbers in hospital are still way off previous highs seen in the pandemic, but there were 1,510 people in intensive care with Covid-19 on Saturday compared with 1,099 just one week ago.

Photo: A sign indicates that a Health Pass is required to access the La Villette exhibition hall, in Paris, France. EPA-EFE/IAN LANGSDON

Read more via France 24/AFP

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