France makes Covid-19 pass mandatory for visiting Eiffel Tower, other sites

France has now made a coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pass mandatory for any tourists or visitors intending to ride up the Eiffel Tower, visit French museums, or movie theaters, news agencies reported on Wednesday. Making the requirement of this special Covid-19 pass mandatory is the first step in a new campaign against what the government calls a “stratospheric” rise in delta variant infections.

The Covid-19 pass requirement took effect on Wednesday at cultural and tourist sites in France, following a government decree. At the Eiffel Tower, masked workers scanned QR codes on digital health passes and checked printed vaccines or test certificates.

What is a Covid-19 pass?

To get the special Covid-19 pass, visitors must show they are either fully vaccinated, have tested negative for the coronavirus, or recovered from Covid-19. As the new rule came into effect on Wednesday, tourists who came to the iconic Eiffel Tower in Paris unprepared were seen lining up for quick virus tests at the site.

French president Emmanuel Macron also wants to expand the Covid-19 pass requirement to all French restaurants and many other areas of public life, as well as requiring that all health workers get vaccine shots.

Reactions to special pandemic pass

France’s requirement of a special Covid-19 pass has triggered mixed reactions from various different walks of life. People opposed to vaccines and being asked to present passes showing their immunity status are growing increasingly vocal.

A group of protesters attending an anti-pass demonstration in the Alpine city of Chambery broke away and entered the town hall, removing a portrait of French President Emmanuel Macron from a wall and taking it away.

Also Read | Xavier Bertrand, ex-insurance salesman, takes on Emmanuel Macron in French presidential race

Johnny Nielsen, a Danish tourist traveling with his wife and two children, said, “In Denmark, you need the pass everywhere.” So while he questioned the usefulness of the French rules, he said that didn’t make them reconsider the family’s travel plans.

Government reaction

The French government wants to rush the expanded pass requirement bill through the Parliament as soon as possible despite the resistance in some quarters. More than 100,000 people have protested the measures around France over the weekend, and prime minister Jean Castex said on Wednesday that the government will seek approval from the constitutional court, which will also take time.

Also Read | UK govt tightens quarantine rules for travellers returning from France

The solution is “vaccination, vaccination, vaccination,” Castex said on Wednesday over TF1 television, urging his compatriots to sign up for vaccine injections to avoid new lockdowns. Of France’s 18,000 new coronavirus cases reported Tuesday, 96% involved people who were unvaccinated, he said.

Covid-19 in France

France’s daily Covid-19 infections dropped sharply in the spring but have shot up again over the past two weeks. Some regions are re-imposing virus restrictions. The government is worried that pressure will grow on hospitals again in the coming weeks.

France has registered more than 111,000 virus-related deaths. Overall 46% of the population is fully vaccinated.