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Visiting the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre or a Paris cinema? Have your COVID pass ready

Visitors at the Eiffel Tower
Tourists register for coronavirus tests at the Eiffel Tower. Special COVID passes are now mandatory for visitors who wish to go up the tower.
(Daniel Cole / Associated Press)

Visitors now need a special COVID pass to go up the Eiffel Tower, to visit the Louvre or other museums and to see a movie in France — the first step in a new campaign against what the government calls a “stratospheric” rise in infections by the Delta variant of the coronavirus.

To get the pass, people must show they are either fully vaccinated, or have a negative virus test or proof they recently recovered from an infection. The requirement went into effect Wednesday at cultural and tourist sites following a government decree.

“The world is facing a new wave, and we must act,” French Prime Minister Jean Castex said.

The solution, he said Wednesday on TF1 television, is “vaccination, vaccination, vaccination,” urging his compatriots to sign up for injections to avoid new lockdowns. Of France’s 18,000 positive cases recorded Tuesday, he said 96% involved people who were not vaccinated.

At the Eiffel Tower, masked workers scanned QR codes on visitors’ digital health certificates or checked their printed vaccine or test documents. Tourists who came unprepared lined up for quick coronavirus tests on site.

Attitudes toward the new requirements were mixed.

Europe is opening up to Americans and others after more than a year of coronavirus restrictions, but travel rules across the Continent are patchwork.

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“I wanted to come here with my mom so I had to take the test to be able to travel,” said Juan Truque, an accountant visiting from Miami, who is not vaccinated. “They are forcing you to wear face masks and do similar kinds of things ... that are violations to your freedom.”

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 their travel plans.

French President Emmanuel Macron wants to rush through legislation to mandate the pass for restaurants and many other areas of public life, as well as requiring that all health workers get COVID-19 shots. The lower house of parliament starts a debate on the bill Wednesday.

It has prompted resistance in some quarters, and anti-vaccination protesters planned a demonstration Wednesday. A previous protest was criticized for drawing comparisons between vaccination requirements and Nazi policies toward Jews.

Millions of people who have received COVID-19 vaccinations could still find themselves barred from entering certain countries in Europe and elsewhere.

Already the government has had to delay plans to require teenagers to use the COVID passes starting next month, amid criticism from parents, restaurant owners and others. The government wants the pass to apply to everyone 12 and older and will launch vaccination campaigns in middle schools and high schools starting in September, Castex said.

France’s daily infections dropped sharply in the spring but have shot up again over the last two weeks, and some regions are reimposing coronavirus 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. About 46% of the population is fully vaccinated.


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