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French health pass. Photo supplied
Versailles

Versailles court suspends compulsory health pass at shopping malls after just 2 days

After French protests challenged the need for a health pass to enter a French supermarket, a judge in Versailles overturned the requirement that these arbitrary documents be presented as a condition for entry into retail businesses in the department of Yvelines.

Published: August 28, 2021, 1:02 pm

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    After just two days of enforcement, the prefectural decree from August 19, which made it compulsory to use a “health passport” at large shopping centers in the Yvelines department, was suspended by the Versailles administrative court. “The contentious order restricts access in a broad manner, and does not provide conditions guaranteeing people’s access to essential goods and services.”

    Throughout Yvelines 14 shopping centers with more than twenty thousand square meters were affected. The decree had been poorly greeted by retail professionals. At the Westfield Velizy 2 shopping center some 17 security agents were hired to guard the twelve entrance doors with an estimated budget of €130 000 for the month of August.

    The shopping mall registered a 25 percent drop in activity and a 25 percent drop in customer flow, which is huge. “We’re really fragile, and the shopkeepers are already suffering after a year and a half of crisis.

    “We have the advantage of being a very large shopping center with air circulation, CO2 sensors, security agents, traffic direction and masks. Our Parisian neighbors have taken note that the Yvelines prefecture has passed this judgment,” a manager of the supermarket mall commented.

    The Versailles administrative court’s decision to suspend the prefectural decree establishing the obligation of the health pass in shopping centers in the Yvelines department, paved the way for other departments to follow.

    The Strasbourg administrative court has meanwhile taken the same decision to stop enforcing the health pass after the manager of a shopping center in Haut-Rhin took the matter to court. The judge of the Strasbourg administrative court decided on Friday, August 27 to suspend the order of the Haut-Rhin prefect which made the presentation of the health pass compulsory in seven commercial centres of the department, especially those larger than 20000 square meters.

    The judge considered that with this obligation to present the health pass, “there is a serious and manifestly illegal interference with the freedom to come and go”. The restrictive measures imposed in the contested decree apply in a general and absolute manner to all businesses located in department stores and shopping centers listed in the decree, without anything having been planned to allow customers not having a pass to access shops selling basic goods and services.

    The measure took effect immediately. It is therefore no longer necessary to present a health pass to do shopping. However, the matter may be referred to the Council of State by the departmental administration.

    After the Yvelines, it was also the Hauts-de-Seine and Val d’Oise shopping centers that stopped demanding the health pass. Appeals were filed on Thursday for these two departments and on Friday for Val-de-Marne. Lawyer Yoann Sibille told Franceinfo that he had filed a complaint on Thursday with the administrative court of Cergy-Pontoise, against the decree taken in the Val d’Oise. The court must now rule within 48 hours.

    Sibille had written an amicable letter to the prefects of Île-de-France in which he asked them to change their orders. If the prefects do not change them, he would continue to file petitions on behalf of all people affected, he said.

    The associations of shopping center traders and the National Council of Shopping Centers were also studying the feasibility of such approaches. Nearly 150 shopping centers and hundreds of thousands of shoppers are affected throughout France by the health pass requirement.

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