France’s pass sanitaire health permit system will be extended to more than 120 major department stores and shopping centres on Monday in areas where levels of Covid infection are causing concern, including Paris and the Mediterranean coast.
The decision to extend the measure restricting entry to customers who can prove they have been vaccinated, have had a negative Covid test or have recovered from coronavirus was made by local officials.
The pass will be required for shoppers entering Paris department stores such as Galeries Lafayette, Printemps, BHV, Le Mon Marché and La Samaritaine, and others mainly in the south of the country.
Several large shopping centres around the Channel ports popular with British tourists had feared being included but were given a reprieve as the local Covid infection rates are lower than the national average.
Local prefects are imposing the pass on large stores and shopping malls in areas where the infection rate is above 200 per 100,000 people. Although Paris has not reached this level, officials are concerned about the high number of cases especially among young people in the neighbouring areas of Saint-Denis and Val-de-Marne.
The worst-hit areas are in departments along the Mediterranean coast. In the Bouches-du-Rhône, which includes the popular holiday areas of Provence, the Côte d’Azur, Marseille, Arles and Aix-en-Provence, the rate has reached 693 per 100,000.
The health pass scheme was introduced in June and extended a week ago. The pass is now required to enter public buildings – including cinemas, theatres, gyms, swimming pools, health centres and museums, but not shops – and long-distance trains and coaches. Local prefects were given the power to impose the pass on shops larger than 20,000 square metres and shopping malls in their area if there was a rise in Covid infections.
France’s Constitutional Council has ruled the measures legal, but opponents of the pass sanitaire claim it infringes their personal and civil liberties.
On Saturday, there were protests against the measure for a fifth consecutive weekend. The interior ministry said there had been a total of 215,000 demonstrators, fewer than the previous week but high for a public holiday weekend in August. Protest organisers have accused the government of underestimating the turnout.
Since President Emmanuel Macron announced on 12 July that the pass sanitaire would be necessary for French people wishing to enjoy everyday activities, the number of people who have had at least one dose of vaccine has risen by almost 10 million.
On the French Caribbean islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe, where a health emergency has been declared, the rate of infection is 2,225 per 100,000 people on Guadeloupe and 1,188 on Martinique.