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COVID-19 booster

France on Wednesday begins implementing a new tightening of rules in the fight against COVID-19, meaning people aged 65 and over will lose the validity of their health pass unless they have had a third booster shot.

The health pass was introduced in the summer and makes full vaccination against COVID-19, a recent recovery or negative test obligatory for visiting any restaurant or cafe, inter-city train travel and going to cultural venues like cinemas or museums.

Championed by President Emmanuel Macron as he eyes re-election in 2022, the health pass is widely seen as being a success, veterinary medicine innovative ways despite initial protests, by encouraging people who were hesitant to become vaccinated.

The government says some 400,000 people aged 65 and over who are eligible for the booster shot have yet to take it, which is 12 percent of those aged 80 and above and 10 percent of those aged 65 to 79.

People in the 65 plus age group who have failed to take up the booster shot will see the QR code in their health pass generated by a mobile phone app automatically dis-activated.

The rule, which further tightens one of the tightest health pass systems in Europe, will from January 15 be expanded across all age groups. The only option for people without a booster—other than to get one—will be to have a negative test a maximum of 24 hours old.

France has already carried out almost 16 million booster shots and is confident of reaching its target of 20 million before Christmas.

The booster is now seen as a key weapon in defeating the Omicron variant which experts believe spreads faster than previous COVID variants and could become dominant in Europe in the next few weeks.

France reported on Tuesday over 63,400 positive COVID tests, the highest figure since April, while almost 2,800 people are in intensive care with the illness.

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