PARIS (REUTERS) – Shopping malls in Paris and large parts of France had to ask customers to show a health pass on Monday (Aug 16), as the government increased pressure on people to get vaccinated against Covid-19.
The requirement to show proof of vaccination or a negative test applies to all malls with a surface area of more than 20,000 square metres in regions where the Covid-19 incidence rate is higher than 200 cases per 100,000 citizens per week.
This will mainly affect retail centres in the south of the country – which has a higher incidence rate – but following a regional prefecture decision over the weekend, the measure will also apply to malls and department stores in Paris, including tourist magnets Galeries Lafayette and Printemps.
Daily new infections have risen from a seven-day average of less than 2,000 at the end of June to nearly 24,000.
Most shoppers on Monday showed their health pass willingly, seeing it as a minor hassle that will allow a resumption of normal life.
“Unfortunately, we don’t have many other options at this point, so I don’t mind,” said Parisian pensioner Frederic Gaide in front of the Printemps department store.
From this week, police will also get tougher enforcing the use of the health pass in restaurants, trains and indoor public spaces, after being lenient when it was first introduced last week.
While there were few reports of customers trying to circumvent the rule, some restaurant owners complained about time lost as customers tried to find their health pass.
“It takes time to unlock the phone, to find the application, to open it and to find the QR code. The scanning part works very well, but every step before that takes time, ” said Ewa Fontaine at Paris restaurant Le Mesturet.
Hospitalisations above 10,000 for first time since end June
French health authorities said on Monday the total number of people hospitalised for Covid-19 stood at 10,151, going over 10,000 for the first time since June 22.
There were also more patients treated in intensive care units for the disease, with an increase of 56 over 24 hours to 1,908 – more than twice as high than a July 21 low of 859.