France has today (Wednesday) implemented a Covid certification requirement at cinemas, attractions, sports arenas and other cultural venues.

Those attending events or places with more than 50 people must show proof of their Covid-19 status in plans outlined by President Emmanuel Macron in a televised address last week.

The so-called ‘health pass’ (pass sanitaire) proves that the bearer has either been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, has already recovered from the virus having tested positive more than 11 days and less than six months ago, or has received a negative test result in the past 48 hours.

Face masks and capacity restrictions will no longer be required in venues where the health passport is in use, unless required by local decrees.

The health pass will be extended to restaurants, cafes and shopping centres from the start of next month. Minors aged between 12 and 17 also have an exemption until August 30, to allow families time to get their children vaccinated. Last week, Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu confirmed that Ligue 1 stadiums must use the health pass but can reopen without capacity restrictions for the start of the football season in August.

President Macron defended the tightening of the restrictions after earlier pledging that the health pass would not be required for “everyday activities” by saying he was trying to strike a balance between “protection and freedom, between protecting lives and reopening the country”.

The announcement on the health pass requirement and compulsory vaccination for all health workers by September led to mass protests attended by more than 100,000 people over the weekend.

Health Minister Olivier Veran warned of an unprecedented increase in Covid-19 cases because of the Delta variant on Tuesday, when 18,000 cases were reported over 24 hours.