French teenagers will need to show proof of vaccination or recovery as of Thursday to be able to participate in certain activities and go out to public venues. This comes as the government prepares to extend the controversial Covid health pass until 2022.
Children aged 12-17 will now need to carry a Covid health pass to be able to do most activities in their daily lives. Although is has not been made mandatory to access school, it will affect most sporting and cultural venues.
Adults have already been subjected to the rule since 21 July.
The document, which features a QR code in paper or digital version shows that a person has either been fully vaccinated, recovered from an infection within the last six months or has proof of a recent negative test.
Eating in a restaurant, taking long distance trains, going to the cinema or the pool all require a health pass.
Pass could be extended
The duration of the health pass has not yet been decided. The original deadline set for 30 September has been pushed back until 15 November.
Government spokesman Gabriel Attal said on Wednesday that a law was being prepared to extend the health pass until summer 2022.
"We need to give ourselves the means, for a few more months, to be able to put measures in place to protect French people," he said. "Obviously, I hope it will not come to that."
Until now, teenagers were exempt from the rule, to give time for the adult vaccination campaign to pick up speed. The authorisation for teenagers was given by European health authorities in June.
Two thirds of the 12-17 age bracket have been vaccinated compared to 84 percent of the adult population over 12.
The government put into place a vaccination system in high schools as of the beginning of September but it has been slow to take off, with only 30,000 doses injected so far.
"There are sometimes difficulties within families to accept the vaccination," admitted health minister Olivier Véran.
The subject of getting children vaccinated has been controversial, and one of the main points of anger within the weekly protest groups which are made up of both anti-vaxxers and those against the obligatory nature of the health pass.
Last Saturday, some 64,000 people showed up across France to express their disapproval of government measures, a number significantly lower than at the height of the movement on 7 August which saw 237,000 people, according to the Interior Ministry.
One of the reasons is the lack of sufficient scientific data with regards to side effects of vaccines with some rare cases of children developing severe cases of Covid-19.
Due to this reticence, the government has said that, contrary to non-vaccinated adults, children can continue to benefit from free PCR tests after 15 October.
According to public health statistics, more than 116,000 people have died in France due to Covid-19.