France now requires virus pass in restaurants, trains
France has expanded the use of a special pass for vaccinated individuals by making it a requirement for anyone going to restaurants or traveling across the country on public transportation.
French Transport Ministry chief Jean-Baptiste Djebbari on Saturday announced the “massive controls” on high-speed, intercity and night trains. Local trains can still be used without the pass.
The virus pass, which now also applies to patrons of bars and cafés, consists of a QR code and is issued to people who are vaccinated against COVID-19 or those who have proof of a recent recovery from the coronavirus or a recent negative test. The new rule also applies for tourists, The Associated Press reported on Monday.
As France experiences a high surge in infections due to the delta variant, the government hopes the new virus pass will encourage more people to get vaccinated. More than 54 percent of the population is fully vaccinated.
“Nearly 45 million French people have received at least one injection, and 37 million are now protected. This mobilization saves lives,” French health minister Olivier Véran tweeted on Saturday.
The vaccination rate in France is slightly higher than in the U.S., with 65.2 percent of the population given at least the first dose compared to 58.3 percent in the U.S.
While most French residents support the health pass, the policy has led to protests. On Saturday, thousands of demonstrators marched in Paris and other cities for a fourth consecutive week of protests against the measure, which was previously implemented on a smaller scale.
The pass had already been required to access leisure venues and events bringing together more than 50 people, as well as for visitors and most patients in hospitals.
Health workers are obliged to be vaccinated against the coronavirus by Sept. 15.
Other European countries have implemented similar measures. Austria instituted a policy in May that was followed by its wider scale “Green Pass” a month later.
With the rapid spread of the delta variant, calls for vaccination passports similar to the European model are growing louder in the U.S. Last week, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) unveiled the “Key to NYC Pass.” As of Aug. 16, indoor dining, gyms and entertainment venues will start to require proof of vaccination.