What this means for travel plans
The French government has now made vaccination compulsory for access to cultural events, theme parks, ski lifts, restaurants, bars and most long-distance transport – the bill passed on Sunday January 16 and will likely be in place by Friday January 21, 2022.
Here are the finer points to know for traveling in and across the country.
The French Health Pass is now a Vaccine Pass and legally binding
European countries have been using the EU Covid digital certificate since last summer to allow EU citizens to travel freely within EU countries. This means anyone who is 1) fully vaccinated, 2) has had Covid-19, or 3) can show proof of a negative Covid-19 test result is allowed to cross borders freely as citizens. of the EU.
Each country runs its own system and in France this is called a Health Pass (the health pass) and is operated via the application AllAntiCovid (all against Covid). In France, it also allows access to restaurants, bars, cafes, shopping centres, cinemas and long-distance buses and trains.
However, the French government went even further and transformed this health pass into a vaccine pass (the vaccination pass). Under these new measures, people must be vaccinated to access the same events, transport networks and venues – a negative Covid-19 test result will no longer suffice.
French President Emmanuel Macron is in the midst of a re-election campaign (polls open for the first round in April 2022) and a fundamental part of his campaign is to crack down on the unvaccinated. Macron has come under fire after recently telling a reporter: “the non-vaccinated, I really want to piss them off”–which can translate to want to “piss off” the non-vaccinated.
The French senate (the ultimate obstacle for the government that enacted it) voted in favor of the get vaccinated Sunday evening, which means it will likely become law on January 21, 2022, although the exact date is yet to be confirmed.
What will change?
For the 90% of French people over the age of 12 vaccinated, nothing will change.
However, anyone who is not vaccinated will obviously be prevented from eating out, attending cultural events or traveling long distances. The new pass is also compulsory in theme parks, such as Disneyland Paris and also in ski resorts to use the ski lifts.
There are a few exceptions:
- Children between the ages of 12 and 16 will only be required to use a health pass, meaning they can still get tested to be up to date on their needs. However, testing is no longer free in France, so this can add quite a significant amount to the price of a family holiday.
- Unvaccinated people can still use long-distance buses and trains (and planes) if there is a “compelling reason of a family or health nature” – so a negative test result would be allowed in the case of a dying parent, for example.
- Under certain conditions, doctors can declare people exempt from the obligation to be vaccinated under the law.
Although the pass is not required in hotels and holiday homes, owners can refuse people and make it a condition of permission to stay – this would also be a requirement for common areas such as bars and the swimming pools.
What does it mean to be “fully vaccinated” in France?
The definition of being fully vaccinated has become a little more demanding with the new law:
- People must have received two doses of AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Moderna vaccines more than a week ago, or a single dose of Janssen a month ago (28 days).
- A dose of any of these three two-dose vaccines is acceptable if someone has had Covid-19.
- If the last dose of the vaccine dates back more than 7 months, a booster shot is mandatory for Vaccination Pass active.
What about visitors to France?
The situation is obviously more complicated for visitors who have followed the vaccination guidelines of other countries, which may not be valid in France.
For example, anyone vaccinated with a WHO-approved vaccine but not an EMA-approved vaccine (Covaxin, Sinopharm, and Sinovac) would need to have received at least one dose of the EMA-approved vaccine to be considered completely vaccinated for Vaccination Pass. Sputnik and other vaccines are not recognized.
UK travelers can show their vaccination certificate in the NHS app and many non-EU nationals can try to convert their vaccination certificates at French pharmacies – American travelers can do this, for example.
To enter France, travelers can present a vaccination certificate from any country and a booster is not currently required to enter (although this may likely change during 2022, in line with recommendations of the enlarged EU).
France currently applies travel restrictions requiring all travelers to arrive with a negative Covid-19 test result if they arrive from a non-EU country, even if they are vaccinated.