France Will Now Require Visitors to Museums and Other Cultural Venues to Provide Proof of Vaccination or Negative Test
The new requirement goes into effect tomorrow.
Access to museums and other cultural venues in France will soon be contingent on visitors being able to prove that they have been fully vaccinated or have recently tested negative for the coronavirus.
Beginning July 21, the pass sanitaire or “health pass” will be required for venues with more than 50 people. Visitors over 18 will be required to show a QR code with a record of full vaccination, or a negative PCR or antigen test from the previous 48 hours. For children over ages 12, who only became eligible for vaccination last month, the pass will become mandatory after August 30.
French President Emmanuel Macron had previously promised that the health pass would “never be a right of access that discriminates among the French. It cannot be made compulsory for access to everyday places.”
But the government has reversed course as part of its effort to encourage vaccination. Use of the health pass, which was previously restricted to large-scale events such as concerts, is being expanded to include restaurants, museums, movie theaters, malls, and long-distance trains.
“If we do not act today, the number of cases will continue to increase,” Macron said in an announcement of the change on July 12.
Vaccination efforts have stalled in France, where only 55 percent of the eligible population has received a shot, and only 40 percent are fully vaccinated, according to the New York Times.
In the fall, the government will begin charging for COVID tests, which have been free throughout the pandemic, to discourage people from relying on testing as an alternative to vaccination.
The decision is a controversial one, and has sparked protests across the country. On Bastille Day last Wednesday, 20,000 people took to the streets to decry the health pass as an infringement on freedom, according to France24—a number that ballooned to 100,000 over the weekend at the incitement of far-right politician Florian Philippot, reports the Associated Press.
Some museum professionals, too, are skeptical that the health pass is the best approach to preventing the spread of the virus.
“To grant the visitors safe access to museums I tried last year to get COVID trained sniffing dogs (they are amazing and super efficient). I still think they would be the best solutions,” curator Marc-Olivier Wahler, the former head of the Palais de Tokyo and current director of MAH Musée d’art et d’histoire in Geneva, told Artnet News. “Much better that any compulsory QR codes.”
The health pass was first launched on June 9, and can be accessed on a special government-developed app, TousAntiCovid. Visitors from elsewhere in the E.U. can show their EU Digital COVID Certificate, and U.K. travelers can use the NHS COVID Pass.
The government says it will provide details as to how international visitors vaccinated outside the E.U. and U.K. will be able to prove their vaccination status “by the end of the week,” according to the Local.
Additional reporting by Naomi Rea.
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