“If we could stop the health pass tomorrow, I would be the happiest man alive,” Macron said during a speech in front of small business leaders on Thursday as part of the Rencontres de l’Union des Entreprises de proximité.
“But the health pass was, I think, a fruitful strategy, because it produced results in terms of pushing people to get vaccinated.”
He added: “Will we be able to go without the health pass in two or three weeks? No, because there are still areas which need it.”
The pass, required to access cafés, restaurants, long-distance trains and other venues, is currently in place until November 15th. If the government decides to extend its use beyond that date, it will have to be subject to a parliamentary vote.
And Macron has evoked the possibility of removing the pass in some areas and not others.
“We’re going to keep it, if I may, in the back pocket, to avoid closures which is the worst case scenario,” he said.
“But as soon as the health conditions allow it, and in my opinion, when I look at the figures, it won’t be too long, [we will] allow areas where the virus is circulating less quickly to lift certain restrictions and live normally.”
He added that this would mean “lifting the pass” in areas “where the virus is practically not circulating at all”.
When asked by a member of the public during a visit to the Eure-et-Loir département on Wednesday whether the health passport would be in place beyond November 15th, Macron replied: “There are départements where we’re going to be led to lighten the restrictions according to the evolution of the pandemic, so we’re going to do that as usual with pragmatism.”
Infection rates have shown a continued decline since mid-August, with France now averaging 8,824 new cases per day. As the maps below from Le Parisien indicate, infection rates are falling in all but two mainland départements (Haute-Vienne and Allier).
Le taux d'incidence baisse dans la quasi totalité des départements, et il est repassé sous le seuil de 50 dans un tiers d'entre eux.
Si la guerre contre le #Covid19 n'est pas gagnée pour autant, la bataille contre la 4ème vague est (très) bien engagée.
— Nicolas Berrod (@nicolasberrod) September 17, 2021
However, Arnaud Fontanet, a member of France’s scientific council, warned on Tuesday that case numbers could rise again as the weather turns colder.