France broadens use of COVID-19 health pass, slashes fines

People queue for tickets as Paris' iconic Eiffel Tower reopens its doors to tourists since late October 2020, after the second national COVID-19 lockdown in Paris, France, July 16, 2021. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol/File Photo

PARIS, July 19 (Reuters) - The French government adjusted its new plan to fight COVID-19 on Monday, slashing planned fines and postponing them to an unspecified date, spokesman Gabriel Attal said.

The measures, which include requiring a health pass in a wide array of venues from the start of August and making vaccination mandatory for health workers, will still account for some of the toughest in Europe.

The health pass provides proof that a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19, has recently had a negative coronavirus test or has newly recovered from the virus.

What changes is that a planned 45,000 euro fine for businesses which do not check that clients have a health pass will be much lower, starting at up to 1,500 euros and increasing progressively for repeat offenders.

Besides, checks will initially be meant to help people apply the measures but the fines will not be imposed immediately. Government spokesman Attal told a news conference he could not say exactly when the "run-in period" would end and fines would be imposed.

He said it might be more than a week but would be less than a month, to give everyone the time to adapt to the new rules.

"We have entered the fourth wave of the epidemic," Attal said after a meeting of the French cabinet.

A health pass will be required in venues including cinemas, bars, restaurants, hospitals and long-distance train and planes, a decision that led to protests at the weekend.

The plan, set to be voted on by parliament, was announced a week ago by President Emmanuel Macron as infections rose and vaccination rates slowed down. read more The plan also foresees that people who test positive for coronavirus will need to self-isolate for 10 days.

Reporting by Dominique Vidalon and Ingrid Melander; editing by Grant McCool

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