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COVID-19: France makes life difficult for unvaccinated

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A “health pass” will soon be required on trains, domestic flights and in long-distance buses, as well as in restaurants and cafes. The pass consists of a QR code on a smartphone or on a piece of paper, and shows that people have been fully vaccinated, hold a recent negative PCR test result or have recently recovered from a COVID-19 infection.

The QR code is already mandatory at cultural venues and its use will be extended on August 9, provided France’s highest court of appeal gives its go-ahead. The law will also make a COVID-19 vaccination compulsory for health care workers and those working with vulnerable people. In case of noncompliance, staff are to be suspended without pay.

French authorities are implementing the health pass in an attempt to boost vaccination rates and stem a fourth wave of COVID-19, fueled by the highly contagious delta variant. Daily infection rates have exploded in recent weeks, increasing from roughly 3,000 in early July to now over 20,000.

The Government is aiming to reach collective immunity, which virologists believe can be reached with an immunization rate of 80% to 90% of the entire population.

Tens of thousands of protesters have been taking to the streets over the past three weekends, ever since President Emmanuel Macron announced the new rules on July 12.But although the number of protesters has been going up every week, they don’t seem to represent the majority of the French. Only one-third of the population supports their demands, according to a recent survey by polling institute Ifop.

Another recent survey by institutes Ipsos and Sopra Steria on behalf of radio station Franceinfo shows that more than 60% of the French are in favor of the health pass, while 74% approve of compulsory vaccination for health care workers. – DEUTSCHEWELLE

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