“The goal is simple: recognize civility and impose restrictions on those who have not been vaccinated, instead of imposing them on everyone.” With this explanation, French President Emmanuel Macron announced, earlier in the week, the imposition of a health passport for daily activities such as going to a restaurant, a terrace, visiting a museum or going to the cinema. He also declared the compulsory nature of vaccines for healthcare personnel, who have until September 15 to get vaccinated. From this date, they will be subject to fines and penalties.
Spain, among the 20 countries in the world with the most vaccines administered per inhabitant
The reaction to these announcements has been swift and massive, especially among young adults. In just four days, more than 3.2 million French people have made an appointment to get vaccinated and the waiting time to receive a dose has increased from six to 18 days on average, according to Doctolib, the leading health platform for booking medical appointments. In addition, this Friday France has broken the record of daily vaccines administered since the beginning of the campaign, with a total of 879,597 injections in the last 24 hours.
“You have never been so numerous to be vaccinated in one day: 879,597 injections made thanks to the mobilization of all. Together we will defeat the virus: all vaccinated, all protected,” French Health Minister Olivier Véran wrote on Twitter.
Those who have moved the most to get vaccinated have been young people: 62% of requests now come from those under 35 years of age, ahead of people between 35 and 49 (25%) and over 50 (13%), according to the French Ministry of Health.
“The strategy has worked, it seems like a good idea to me,” explains Maya, a young Parisian vaccinated for weeks to elDiario.es. “It is the only way to fight this pandemic in a definitive way,” says George, an elderly man living in Paris who has also been vaccinated.
In total, in France, more than 36.7 million people have received their first dose, equivalent to 54% of the population, and more than 29.2 million are fully immunized, equivalent to 43% of the French. Even so, according to the vaccine tracking website CovidTracker, adults between 18 to 29 years old represent the strip that is least vaccinated: only 30% have received the complete guideline, the lowest percentage among the rest of the adult age groups.
Concerts, bars, trains and planes
Among the establishments that will be affected by this measure are cultural and leisure centers with a capacity of more than 50 people, such as showrooms, concerts, or amusement parks. These premises must begin to require the health passport as of next Wednesday. Starting in August, it will be extended to restaurants, terraces, bars, or to travel by train and plane. To get it started, the executive is preparing a bill that will be debated in the National Assembly next week.
Meanwhile, the sectors that will be affected by these measures have already begun to prepare logistically.
Julien Jin, owner of a Japanese restaurant located in the center of Paris, welcomes the implementation of this health passport. “At first it will be difficult for us to organize ourselves, but it will allow us to move forward,” Jin explains to this newspaper. “We will live with this virus for a long time, we must assume it, and this system will allow us to progress.”
Despite the fact that on July 14, French National Day, around 19,000 people protested against the new measures in the main cities of the country, a recent survey indicates that the majority of the population is in favor of them. According a survey conducted by Ipsos / Sopra Steria to Le Parisien, 69% of the French approve the mandatory vaccination for health workers and 62% agree on the implementation of the COVID passport to carry out daily activities.
However, the French government continues to do pedagogy to try to convince the skeptics despite the wave of requests to be vaccinated. “96% of positive patients with COVID-19 and with symptoms were not vaccinated. The vaccine protects you. The vaccine protects us,” the Minister of Health recalled this week.
It was tested at Roland Garros
Using a health passport is nothing new in France. It began to be required on June 9 to access events of more than 1,000 people, such as the Roland Garros tournament, and from July 9 it is mandatory to enter discos that have a capacity of more than 50 people.
This passport, inspired by the COVID Certificate of the European Union to be able to travel, can be obtained in three different ways: with a complete vaccination certificate, with proof of recovery from the disease for two weeks and up to six months or with a negative PCR or antigen test. It works with a QR code and can be used digitally, with a mobile application, or in paper format.
In addition, as of August 30, it will also be extended to adolescents from 12 to 17 years old.
Another measure to further promote vaccination among the French concerns PCR and antigen tests, until now free for the entire population. After the summer, they will begin to be paid except for those who present symptoms or who have been in contact with a positive.