The August holidays are almost at an end and France is gearing up for La Rentrée, plus there’s good news for non-EU travellers hoping to register for France’s Health Pass. Here are the French news stories you need to know about this week.
1. Access to Health Pass for Foreign Visitors
The French government has now launched a new online portal for foreign visitors to access the Health Pass or Pass Sanitaire. The Health Pass is required to access public events, bars, restaurants, and cultural venues around France, and can be accessed via France’s TousAntiCovid App. However, up until now, the app has been tricky to access for non-EU visitors.
While those who received their vaccinations in EU countries or the UK can simply scan the QR code on their French or NHS-issued certificate into the app, visitors from America, Canada, and other non-EU countries must transfer their vaccination certificate into a French one fist—a rather long-winded process. The good news is that you can now request this French certificate online here. To do so, you will need copies of your vaccination certificate (showing full vaccination with an EU-approved vaccine), your passport, and your return airline tickets to France (in a PDF, JPG or PNG format). Once your application has been approved, you will be sent a QR code which you can scan into the app to activate your Pass Sanitaire.
Our article on France’s Health Pass has everything you need to know about using the Pass, including when and where you need it in France.
2. Macron’s Vaccine Gamble Pays Off
While we reported in last week’s News Digest about the many protests against France’s Health Pass, it seems like President Macron’s plan to encourage the French to get vaccinated is paying off. France’s slow roll-out of vaccinations was widely criticised at first, but the latest figures have seen France overtake many other European countries (including Germany and Spain) for first-dose vaccinations.
The current vaccination figures, as of August 23rd, show a cumulative uptake of at least one vaccine dose in over 18s in France at 88.4% and 68.6% fully vaccinated. That means more than 47 million people have now received at least one vaccine dose.
3. It’s Almost La Rentrée!
French cities have been quieter than usual over August as many workers take their annual summer vacations, but as the holidays come to an end, La Rentrée (the ‘return to school’) is just around the corner. If you have children at school in France, things are going to be a little different in 2021. This week, France’s Education Minister Jean Michel-Blanquer clarified some of the rules and regulations that will be put in place in schools in the continuing fight against Covid-19.
Despite concerns to the contrary, he confirmed that the Health Pass will not be required for students or teachers, and Covid vaccinations will not be made mandatory for students or teachers either. However, vaccination programs will be starting up in schools from September, and all children over 12 will be given the option to get vaccinated.
There is also a four-step colour-coded alert level (Green, Yellow, Orange, and Red) for schools depending on the local Covid situation, each outlining the protocol for school closures and homeschooling (in the event of Covid cases), mask-wearing, group sizes for classes and activities, canteen dining, and additional hygiene measures (disinfecting surfaces, for example).
All at primary schools, collèges and lycées will start at Yellow Level in September, which means in-person lessons, mandatory mask-wearing indoors for all collège and lycée students and staff members; and school closures (for primary schools) or homeschooling for unvaccinated students (for collèges and lycées in the case of a positive Covid case as the school.
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