French lawmakers approve bill to tackle fourth wave of coronavirus


Protesters attend a demonstration called by the French nationalist party "Les Patriotes" (The Patriots) against France's restrictions to fight the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, on the "Droits de l'Homme" (human rights) esplanade at the Trocadero Square in Paris, France, July 24, 2021. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

PARIS (Reuters) -The French parliament on Monday approved a bill which will make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for health workers as well as require a bolstered health pass in a wide array of social venues as France battles with a fourth wave of coronavirus infections.

Visitors heading to museums, cinemas or swimming pools in France are already denied entry if they cannot produce a pass showing that they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or have had a recent negative test. The pass has been required for large-scale festivals or to go clubbing.

From the start of August, the pass will further be needed to enter restaurants and bars and for long-distance train and plane journeys.

The measures contained in the bill are due to end on Nov. 15. A final green light from the constitutional court, the nation's top jurisdiction, will be needed before the law can come into effect.

From around 4,000 new cases a day at the start of July, daily infections in France have gradually increased, topping 22,000 last week, with hospitalizations also on the rise.

Like many other countries across Europe, France is dealing with the highly contagious Delta variant, first identified in India, which is threatening to prolong the pandemic and derail economic recovery.

Authorities are stepping up efforts to facilitate mass vaccination and are ramping up outreach to those who have not made appointments.

As of Sunday, 49.3% of France's 67 million population had received two doses - or one single-shot - of a COVID-19 vaccine, still far from any threshold some experts say could help largely curb COVID-19 transmission, a mechanism called "herd immunity."

Experts of the country's Institut Pasteur said earlier this year a total easing of restrictions in the country could be envisaged without epidemic resurgence if more than 90% of adults received a vaccine.

(Reporting by Matthias Blamont; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

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