France bars unvaccinated people from restaurants, sports venues and tourist sites

Demonstrator holding placard protesting against France's vaccine pass
A demonstrator holds a placard protesting against France’s vaccine pass during a rally in Paris on Saturday.
(Rafael Yaghobzadeh / Associated Press)

People who aren’t vaccinated against COVID-19 are no longer allowed in France’s restaurants, bars, tourist sites and sports venues unless they recently recovered from the disease.

The new law came into effect Monday. The requirement of a “vaccine pass” for access to venues is central to the French government’s anti-coronavirus strategy.

France is registering Europe’s highest-ever daily coronavirus infection numbers, and hospitals are continuing to fill up with COVID-19 patients, though the number of people in intensive care units has dropped in recent days.


The government has imposed few other restrictions amid the surge of the Omicron variant, focusing instead on the vaccine pass, approved by France’s Parliament and Constitutional Council last week.

Omicron is less likely to cause severe illness than the previous Delta variant, according to studies. But it spreads even more easily than other coronavirus strains and has already become dominant in many countries. It also more easily infects those who have been vaccinated or had previously been infected by prior versions of the coronavirus.

Critics question whether the vaccine pass will make much difference in a country where 94% of French adults have had at least one vaccine dose, and groups held scattered protests Saturday against the new law. The government hopes that the new rule will protect the most vulnerable and reduce pressure on crowded ICUs, where most COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated.

From mandating COVID-19 shots for everyone over 50 to excluding the uninoculated from more venues, European countries get tougher on the unvaccinated.

Jan. 7, 2022

Since the summer, France has required a “health pass” to go to any cafe, museum or movie theater or to take a regional train or domestic flight. Before Monday, unvaccinated people could activate the pass by getting a recent negative coronavirus test.

But the new pass works only for people who are fully vaccinated and those who recently recovered from the disease.

France opened up access to booster shots to 12-to-17-year-olds Monday.