France enters Covid ‘fourth wave' as parliament prepares to debate health pass bill
The French government has finalised its proposed legislation to extend the use of health passes and encourage Covid-19 vaccination as the country enters a "fourth wave" of the pandemic.
"We have entered the fourth wave of the epidemic," government spokesperson Gabriel Attal said Monday after a meeting of the French cabinet to approve a bill that would extend the use of health passes to incite people to get vaccinated against Covid.
France is facing a surge in cases linked to the more contagious Delta variant.
“We are observing a faster wave with a steeper curve than before. It can go up very fast and very high, said Attal.
Health Minister Olivier Veran has said that nine out of 10 newly infected people are unvaccinated.
Health passes and isolation
The legislation, which will be debated by parliament on Tuesday, would extend the use of a health pass to enter many venues, including cafes and restaurants, and would require people who test positive to isolate for ten days.
After a review by the Council of State, the country’s highest court, the bill has been watered down from proposals announced by President Emmanuel Macron last week, but the measures remain some of the toughest in Europe.
The Council reduced fines for venues that do not check passes, from 9,000 euros to 1,500 euros for a first offence.
It also raised concerns about applying the health pass for entry to shopping malls, as it could limit access to essential products, especially food.
The bill includes a ten-day isolation period for anyone testing positive to Covid, with police checks for compliance, but not from 11pm to 8am, after the Council recommended they should not be carried out overnight.
Effects already felt
The announcement of the measures, which would come into effect as early as the beginning of August, has already had the intended effect of pushing more than three million people to book vaccine appointments.
Though the proposals have also led to protests and accusations that Macron and the government are abusing their powers.
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