France hopes new vaccine pass will speed up vaccination amid spread of Omicron

French Minister of Health Olivier Veran, wearing a protective mask, leaves after the weekly Cabinet meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, December 1, 2021. REUTERS / Sarah Meyssonnier

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PARIS, December 18 (Reuters) – France is hopeful that a planned new vaccine pass that will be required to enter public places will persuade more people to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as the country faces a rapid spread of the Omicron variant, the health minister said on Saturday.

The government does not want to impose new curfews or confinements on those vaccinated, but the threat of Omicron is forcing the authorities to increase the pressure on those who refuse the vaccination, Olivier Véran told France Inter.

“We cannot continue to say that the choice not to be vaccinated is a choice that has no consequences,” said Veran.

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Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Friday that the government will propose a bill to parliament in January to change France’s “health pass” to a “vaccine pass”, meaning that only those who have been vaccinated will be allowed to enter the hospitals. covered public places such as bars, restaurants and cinemas. . Read more

Under current regulations, a recent negative COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination is sufficient.

About 90% of eligible French people have been vaccinated, according to the government.

Veran said the government would ask MPs to also consider passing the vaccine as a requirement on trains and planes, and making it mandatory to show proof of identity with the pass. “There is too much fraud,” he said.

The leader of the far-right National Rally party, Marine Le Pen, said the proposed vaccination pass was akin to compulsory vaccination. “The French are losing their individual freedoms,” she told BFM.

Veran said Omicron is currently believed to account for up to 10% of new coronavirus cases and that could reach over 50% by early next year.

Following a national ban on New Year’s fireworks announced on Friday, the Paris city hall announced that it had canceled the fireworks and the festivities on the Champs-Elysées scheduled for December 31.

In a report released on Saturday, the scientific committee advising the government on COVID-19 recommended “significant restrictive measures” for December 31, including possible curfews.

Veran said he expected the French health authority to approve vaccination for children aged 5 to 11 next week.

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Reporting by Geert De Clercq and Gwenaelle Barzic Editing by Mark Potter and Frances Kerry

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