What new Covid ‘vaccine pass’ rules mean for holidays with replaced ‘health pass’

France has lifted a ban on British tourists, but travelers are still required to abide by the country’s Covid pass rules, which will tighten as early as the weekend (Saturday, January 15).

The tightening of the country’s rules means that to enter public places or travel on public transport, adults must be fully vaccinated – meaning the first vaccination plus a booster if the vaccination is over seven months, from 15 years regresses to more than four months of age. February – or provide evidence of a recent Covid infection – a positive PCR or antigen test from 11 days to 6 months earlier.

The new rules, called a “vaccine pass”, will replace the current “health pass” or sanitary pass.

The main change is that people under the health pass can use a negative Covid test instead of vaccination or evidence of recent infection. This is not allowed on the basis of the vaccine pass. Under 18s are exempt from the new restrictions, while 12 and older must adhere to the former health pass rules.

Here’s everything you need to know about the changes.

Where is the pass required?

The vaccination pass is mandatory for access to:

  • all leisure settings
  • drinking places and restaurants
  • trade shows, seminars and grants
  • interregional planes, trains and buses
  • stadiums and concert halls, depending on the health situation and the characteristics of the venue

Are the rules the same throughout France?

At first yes. However, the current legal text stipulates that the vaccine pass will be automatically abolished as soon as the number of patients hospitalized after a Covid infection falls below 10,000. It is then possible that the pass will be maintained in certain regions where the number of cases is high enough and vaccination numbers are low. This means that as cases get easier, the pass could be abolished in some regions and not others.

When will the ‘vaccine pass’ be introduced?

The new vaccine pass law was voted in the French Senate on Wednesday and the French government expects it to be signed into law on Saturday, January 15.

Will booster shots be mandatory?

Since December 15, people over 65 must receive a booster dose to maintain their health pass.

Under the new rules from January 15, all over 18s must have a first vaccination plus a booster if the vaccination is older than seven months, falling to more than four months from February 15.

What about children?

Children under the age of 12 are exempt from both the old and the new Covid pass.

Children 12 years and older will not be required to adhere to the new vaccine pass and will instead be subject to the older health pass rules.

This means they can still test in lieu of vaccination or evidence of recent infection.

Tests, which can be lateral flows, are only valid for 24 hours, cost around £33 each and must be performed by a professional, usually in a pharmacy or pop-up testing centre.

The requirement means that a family of four holidaying in France with two unvaccinated children can be charged £462 for daily antigen testing only.

This does not include the extra cost of mandatory testing in the 24 hours before entering France or the mandatory antigen testing required upon return to the UK.

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