New QR tracing system to be launched in France

Starting 9th June, establishments such as bars, cafés, restaurants and gyms, will have QR scanners to alert customers of Covid risks as well as track those who may be contaminated.

The track and trace QR code is called Signal and will form part of the French mobile app Tous Anti Covid.

Just as gyms, bars, restaurants and cafés will all be welcoming clients back indoors, the app will ask people entering these establishments to “sign in” using a QR code, allowing the government to alert those who had been on the premises if an outbreak of Covid has occurred.

The government assured that this system will not be used to track users, allowing for anonymous use. It is also not attached to a location, but to the group at the same location at the same time. All data is deleted after a fortnight.

The QR code is not the same as the new health pass, which allows access to large gatherings such as indoor concerts, theatres or sporting events with more than 1,000 people by offering proof of recent vaccination, negative PCR test or are otherwise immune.

Called a “digital reminder book”, the QR code is by far the easier way to go, though paper versions will be available at establishments, and will be obligatory from 9th June until the government says it is no longer required.

It is a bit of a chequerboard who is required to provide the QR. Outdoor terraces and cinemas for example will not require patrons to sign in. The government has said they are targeting enclosed establishments with poor ventilation and mask-wearing is not continuous.

Business owners can access the professional site at to generate the code and then they must have it on display for customer use. Customers will then simply use their QR code scanner to sign in.

If someone at a facility has tested positive, each individual who had been at the site within two hours of the infected person will receive an “orange alert” asking them to “get tested immediately, limit contact and watch for symptoms.”  

If three people from the same place test positive, another alert, a “red alert”, will be sent out recommending people to “isolate and get tested immediately.”

Questions are also arising about the efficacy of such a system which requires one to sign in but does not enforce in any actionable way to follow through if an outbreak has occurred.

The National Commission of Information and Liberties (CNIL) in France has said the app “sufficiently demonstrated the usefulness, at the current stage, of the fight against the epidemic”, but recommended that its mandatory nature “be limited to only establishments open to the public presenting a high risk” of contamination.