The French government on Monday expanded more activities requiring the use of a COVID-19 “health pass” despite large-scale protests against such measures.
The pass extensions include visiting hospitals, intercity travel, and going to restaurants and cafes.
The pass is proof of vaccination, a negative COVID-19 test, or recovery from the disease. It has been required since July 21 for events or cultural venues where more than 50 people gather, including sporting events and cinemas.
The pass includes a QR code that is scanned upon entry to a venue or event and can be in paper form or digital.
It is currently not required for children, but beginning on Aug. 30, everyone 12 and older will need to show proof of immunity before entering an event or a public space.
Individuals are considered fully vaccinated seven days after the second dose of Pfizer, Moderna, or AstraZeneca vaccine, four weeks after the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, or seven days after one dose of any COVID-19 vaccine administered to those who recovered from a prior infection.
The pass is part of the government’s attempt to curb rising COVID-19 cases and encourage vaccination. More than 37 million or 55.5 percent of French people are fully vaccinated as of Sunday.
“The pass and the vaccination drive should help us avoid new curfews and lockdowns,” Health Minister Olivier Véran told French daily Le Parisien on Saturday as protests continued for a fourth consecutive weekend against the pass and a Sept. 15 mandatory vaccination requirement for healthcare workers.
More than 200,000 people demonstrated across the country, including 17,000 in Paris this past weekend, according to the Interior Ministry. Opponents of the pass and other mandates argue that their civil liberties are being encroached upon.
In response to the protests, Véran announced slight changes to the health pass rules. The government will now accept a negative PCR or antigen test result within the past 72 hours rather than the original 48 hours. In addition, a negative self-test carried out under medical supervision would also be valid.
France recorded over 20,000 COVID-19 cases and 30 deaths on Sunday, according to worldometers.info. While new cases have continuously risen for the past six weeks, hospitalizations and deaths have not risen at the same rate as the past waves.
The strict COVID-19 rules will remain in effect until Nov. 15.