France's top court approves wider use of health pass to fight coronavirus

PARIS, France -- France's highest constitutional body on Thursday approved the measures proposed by the government to extend the use of the health pass to a wider range of public places, and make vaccination for health workers mandatory.

People are seen at a reopened cinema in Paris, France, on May 19, 2021. (Xinhua)

The Constitutional Council said in a statement that health pass measures comply with the constitution.

To curb the spread of more infectious COVID-19 variants, the government proposed in July that people wishing to enter cafes, restaurants, gyms, shopping centers and even hospitals (except for emergencies), would have to show a certificate proving they had been fully vaccinated, tested negative, or recently recovered from coronavirus.

In France, the health pass has been compulsory since July 21 for gatherings of more than 50 people in cultural and leisure venues such as cinemas and museums.

Meanwhile, the court rejected the government's wish to impose a 10-day quarantine on anyone testing positive for COVID-19. It also threw out a provision that would allow employers to dismiss people on fixed-term or temporary contracts who do not have the health pass.

The new restrictions, voted by parliament last month and due to come into effect on Aug. 9, have sparked public anger. While the executive argues that the new rules are needed to contain the highly contagious Delta variant and prevent fresh national lockdowns, critics say the measures are an attack on people's personal freedoms.

To date, over 36 million people in France have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the Health Ministry figures. However, the country is currently facing a fourth wave, triggered by the Delta variant.

The country has logged some 6.2 million COVID-19 cases since the start of the epidemic. Meanwhile, the total number of coronavirus-related deaths in France is approaching 120,000.

A faster vaccination rollout, the extension of the health pass, and barrier gestures could have a significant impact on the severity of the peak expected in September, according to leading French research center the Institut Pasteur.