Health pass: Everything you need to know about the long-awaited digital pass

The French government has mentioned the creation of a health pass to reopen public places in this epidemic context. A document not to be confused with the European Union’s health passport, planned for June for travellers.

What is the health pass?

The sanitary pass is designed for regulate access to public places : restaurants, cultural places (museum, theatre, …), leisure centres (cinemas, …), etc. The idea is to allow citizens to return to a normal life or at least a less restrictive daily life. The development of this project continues in parallel with the vaccination campaigns on which some members of the executive, such as the Minister of Solidarity and Health Olivier Véran, are counting to reopen public institutions.

The health pass is a kind of health booklet which will be associated with the Tousanticovid application. This health pass will allow to identify all the people who frequent a given establishment, but especially to know their medical situation : covid vaccination, last covid-19 tests performed, a declaration on honour of non-symptoms, etc. This will facilitate the tracing of case-contacts and help to trace the chain of infection.

Digital or paper health pass?

The health pass proposed by President Emmanuel Macron will be both digital and physical. It should be noted that not all French people own a smartphone. According to the barometer of the French regulatory authority for electronic communications, posts and press distribution (ARCEP), 77% of the French population owns a smartphone. For the remaining 23%The government is planning a paper version, with a QR codeto be scanned at the entrance of public places.

For the moment, the health pass is at the hypothetical stage. It is not a question of a “one-size-fits-all” solution, but of a “one-size-fits-all” solution, which is a solution to the crisis. This solution to the crisis is seen as a Holy Grail for the “return to normal life”. A forecast confirmed by the Prime Minister Jean Castex. But everything will still depend on the evolution of the epidemic situation in France.

Health pass and health passport: what are the differences?

If the health pass aims at a better regulation of access to public placesthe health passport for its part will allow its holder to travel freely within the European Union. The European Health Passport is still under consideration but 27 EU countries have reportedly already agreed to the proposal and it is expected to be in place by next summer.

The health passport, also known as the vaccine passport or Covid passport, certifies that the holder has already been vaccinated against Covid-19. Otherwise, the person is a priori immune, allowing him to move freely within the European Union. Such a system is already in place in other countries, notably China, which requires travellers to present a health certificate. Greece and Cyprus have also reached an agreement with Israel, which grants access to its territory to people who have already been vaccinated. By the end of March, half of Israel’s population had already received the two doses of Covid vaccine, with the country using Pfizer-BioNTech.

Passport to health: the content of the document

Like the health passport, the health passport will gather the essential information about the person’s state of health as well as the last Covid exams (test attesting to the presence of antibodies, number and date of Covid tests already performed, …). But above all, the document will highlight the vaccination (date, first/second injection, etc.). However, Brussels mentions other guaranteesemphasizing the low vaccination rate. Like the restaurant or museum pass, the EU is planning a digital and paper health passport.

The health/vaccine passport will be more like an app to facilitate health checks than an official document. Major airlines have already considered this solution in the hope that travel will resume quickly. In fact, some, like American Airlines, are already using this system. Neither the French health pass nor the EU health passport will be compulsory in principle. Making this document compulsory implies an obligation of vaccination. However, the anti-Covid vaccine is currently unavailable for young people.

What about the health pass?

If the health passport is conditional on vaccination, the health pass which aims to improve the daily life of the French is less demanding. This pass would allow, among other things, to present a recently performed PCR test (72 hours). Many fear that the health pass will eventually be transformed into a vaccine passport, an idea that the President of the Republic has so far rejected.

However, there is no indication that the document will not later become compulsory and turn into a vaccine passport, particularly under international pressure or in the face of the EU, which is seeking a solution common to all the countries of the Old Continent. Germany, for example, supports the approach, as does Greece, which aspires to restart tourism. Sweden and Denmark have also implemented a similar solution to allow their citizens to travel or to access public places and sports and cultural events.

The issue of data security

While some welcome the upcoming opening of public places, others raise the question of the security of personal and sensitive data collected during the creation of these digital passes. Doctors also mention a danger to ethicsmedical information is supposed to be confidential. The CNIL ( The National Commission for Information Technology and Civil Liberties) does not hide its concern either about the use of this data by the public authorities. The commission asks the executive to be vigilant in the treatment of these data.

The government wants to adopt this solution to allow the reopening of activities (restaurant, concert, theatre, museum, …). Some people, however, see this document as an obstacle to freedom. The need for a pass to be able to frequent a place would be liberticide. At a press conference, Emmanuel Macron assured that he was aware of all these difficulties and would examine the project “technically, politically, legally”. He acknowledges that it “will raise many technical questions, respect for individual data, organization of our freedoms.” To be continued.

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