The French government will bring forward a bill to extend the coronavirus passport system, known as the Health Pass, to July 31st, 2022.
The draft law will be presented to the Council of Ministers on October 13th and is believed to be in preparation for a potential rise in the number of coronavirus cases during the presidential campaign, which is scheduled for April of next year. The French parliament had initially set November 15th as the deadline for the end of the Health Pass.
The Pass Sanitaire (Health Pass) is currently required to access various cultural venues, including restaurants, bars, theme parks, and theatres.
Along with extending the vaccine passport into next summer, the new law will increase the penalties for those who commit fraud in relation to the Health Pass, with violators facing up to five years in prison and a €75,000 (£64,600/$86,900) fine, a report from the newspaper Le Figaro states.
The new law states that the government believes “the risk of an epidemic rebound remains high, especially with the approach of the winter period, conducive to an acceleration of viral circulation, and does not make it possible to envisage currently the lifting of health prevention measures on the metropolitan territory”.
“The challenge for us is not to say that we will prolong constraints indefinitely,” government spokesman Gabriel Attal said, adding: “We obviously have reasons to be optimistic thanks to vaccination.”
“But the 18 months that have passed have shown us that we must always remain cautious and vigilant,” Mr Attal said.
France has also extended the Health Pass to those aged 12 and older and extended the coronavirus pandemic health emergency until November 15th in its overseas territories, giving them powers such as implementing curfews.
The Health Pass has been in no way a universally loved policy and has seen weeks of protests since it was implemented in July. Earlier this month, an estimated 120,000 people across the country protested the passport system, demanding that it be ended.
During one protest, a man who held up a sign depicting President Emmanuel Macron as Nazi leader Adolf Hitler was fined €10,000 (£8,500/$12,000) for “publicly insulting” the French leader.