Vaccine Passport, S’il Vous Plaît

As jurisdictions across the world grapple with the effects of the more infectious delta variant, many governments either have taken or are considering more restrictive measures to reduce infection rates and community spread of COVID-19.  To encourage individuals to receive COVID-19 vaccinations, countries have developed creative initiatives, including by offering lottery tickets for cash prizes and tickets to soccer (i.e., football) matches, entering raffles to win cars, offering soused herring and providing barbeque sausage sandwiches.  Despite these incentives and other forms of encouragement, vaccine hesitancy lingers.  As such, some countries in which the “carrot” (i.e., reward) approach has not enticed enough individuals to receive a vaccination now have resorted to the “stick” (i.e., punishment) approach to accelerate COVID-19 vaccination rates.  France is an example of a country that has taken a tougher stance on encouraging COVID-19 vaccinations.

The French government recently introduced the Pass Sanitaire (i.e., vaccinate passport).  Under this measure, individuals must have a Pass Sanitaire to enter restaurants, cafes, shopping centers and cultural events (e.g., movie theaters) and to travel on long-distance trains.  The Pass Sanitaire does not require individuals to receive a COVID-19 vaccination, but unvaccinated individuals must have recently tested negative for COVID-19 or are recovering from COVID-19.

France has rolled out the Pass Sanitaire even though it is a country traditionally devoted to the idea of preserving individual freedoms and civil liberties.  After all, the core of the French mantra is egalité, fraternité, liberté.  French President Emmanuel Macron has defended the Pass Sanitaire measure, urging individuals to think about the fraternité element of the French motto and to consider that freedom only exists if the freedom of everyone is protected.

Whether the Pass Sanitaire model is replicated across the international community remains unclear, but vaccine passports already have been implemented elsewhere, including in Germany and Italy.  Germany has introduced “CovPass” that allows fully vaccinated individuals to access restaurants, museums and other venues that require proof of vaccination.  Similarly, Italy has rolled out the “Green Pass” to demonstrate proof of vaccination or recent negative COVID-19 test and is required to dine indoors and to enter museums, gyms, theaters and a wide range of social activities.

We continue to monitor how jurisdictions outside the US continue to respond to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic.