epa09333027 French President Emmanuel Macron waits for the start of a video summit with leaders of G5 Sahel countries after France's decision last month to reduce French anti-terror troops in West Africa, at the Elysee presidential Palace in Paris, France, 09 July 2021. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic the talks with the presidents of Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania will be held by video, with only Niger's President Mohamed Bazoum travelling to Paris. EPA/STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN / POOL MAXPPP OUT

No jab, no baguette? Posts misconceive France health pass plan

AAP FactCheck July 21, 2021

The Statement

Australian social media users have shared claims that French President Emmanuel Macron is banning unvaccinated people from purchasing food at supermarkets from August.

A screenshot including the claim was posted on July 14 to the Facebook account of Jamie McIntyre, who has repeatedly shared false or misleading information about COVID-19 (see here, here and here).

The post features an image of Mr Macron with the caption: “French President announces that from August 1, 2021 people won’t be allowed to PURCHSE (sic) FOOD at supermarkets unless they are vaccinated!”

Similar posts have been shared by multiple other Australian social media users, including by former Neighbours actor Nicola Charles.

The Facebook post
┬áUnvaccinated French people won’t be able to buy food from supermarkets from August 1, a meme says.┬á

The Analysis

French President Emmanuel Macron announced plans on July 12 to combat the rise in Delta variant cases of COVID-19, including the introduction of a “health pass” as a requirement to access many facilities.

However, the passport is not available only to the vaccinated, nor is there any evidence that it will be used to bar people from shopping in supermarkets.

As of August, all visitors to restaurants, cafes, shopping centres, hospitals or bars in the country will have to show a COVID-19 “pass sanitaire” – or health pass. The pass will provide proof that a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19, has recently had a negative coronavirus test or has recovered from the virus within the past six months.

Mr Macron set out the plan in an address, during which he said vaccination would not be mandatory but the health pass was being extended in order to drive as many people to become vaccinated as possible.

He went on to say only the vaccinated and those who had tested negative to the virus would be able to access places such as cafes, restaurants, shopping centres, hospitals and long-distance transport.

The announcement, which has been described as one of the world’s most strict pandemic edicts, resulted in a reported rush for vaccines, with nearly one million people booking online in the first day after Mr Macron’s announcement.

According to reports, French Health Minister Olivier V├®ran later clarified the rules surrounding grocery shopping: “We are talking about (asking for health passes in) big shopping centres ÔǪ not supermarkets.”

The country’s finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, also confirmed in an interview that the restrictions would only apply to the largest shopping centres, those with an area greater than 20,000sq m.

Dominique Schelcher, president of the French retailers co-operative Syst├¿me U, which includes several hundred independent supermarkets, tweeted regarding the health pass that only major shopping centres would be affected and that “the small supermarket of your daily life is not concerned” (translated from French).

There have been large-scale protests throughout France about the health pass since Mr Macron’s address, while the measure has also been reportedly used to fuel various COVID-19-related conspiracy theories.

The image of Macron’s speech in the Facebook meme identifies that it was received from Azazel News (Aries), a channel on the encrypted messaging platform Telegram that frequently shares unsubstantiated and conspiratorial material.

French President Emmanuel Macron
 French President Emmanuel Macron announced plans on July 12 to combat a rise in Delta variant cases. 

The Verdict

France’s health pass system does not include a ban on the unvaccinated buying food at supermarkets, as claimed in the post. While restrictions apply to venues such as large shopping centres, the country’s health minister said the passes would not apply for supermarkets.

In addition, the health passes are not available exclusively to the vaccinated. People with a recent negative COVID-19 test or who have recovered from the virus are also eligible for the pass.

False ÔÇô Content that has no basis in fact.

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