France’s highest court on Thursday (August 5) upheld a new law requiring the public to hold a health pass to access bars and restaurants, and health workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by mid-September, saying it complied with the republic’s founding charter.
In its ruling the Constitutional Council did however strike down several clauses in the legislation, saying that enforcing a compulsory 10-day quarantine on anyone testing COVID-19 positive impinged on freedoms.
It also ruled that while employers could suspend health and frontline workers who refuse to get a COVID-19 shot or show proof of a negative test, they could not dismiss those on short-term contracts.
The legislation is due to come into effect on Aug. 9. It was unveiled by President Emmanuel Macron in July as the Delta variant of the coronavirus fuelled a fourth wave of infections. Macron delivered a simple message at the time: get vaccinated.
It prompted a surge in the vaccination rate as the French faced the prospect of being denied access to bars, restaurants, cafes and cinemas without proof of either vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test.
But opponents of the legislation accuse Macron of trampling on freedoms and discriminating against the unvaccinated. Some 200,000 people marched through towns and cities across France in a third weekend of protests on Saturday (July 31) and more are planned.