France's Constitutional Council has approved with conditions the government's controversial vaccine pass. From 24 January, people over 16 must show a certificate of vaccination to enter public places like restaurants, cinemas or inter-city trains.
The Council's ruling paves the way for the vaccine pass to take effect next Monday, replacing a health pass that showed proof of vaccination, a recent negative test or previous infection.
The Council upheld a contested provision allowing for bar and restaurant managers to check a person's identification alongside the pass to curb the use of fakes or certificates belonging to a third party.
But it overturned a requirement that vaccine passes be shown to attend political rallies. Coming less than three months before France holds its presidential election, the Council said such a provision would impinge on people's freedom to share views and opinions.
The Council also ruled that the pass should end as soon as it is no longer necessary.
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It has given new momentum to weekly street protests against Covid-related restrictions on public life, though the number of protestors remains small nationwide.
France reported more than 425,000 coronavirus infections on Thursday, as the fifth wave – driven by the highly-contagious Omicron variant – continues to keep case numbers high.
The government has nonetheless announced a gradual lifting of restrictions.