The French Senate adopts an amended bill transforming the health pass into a stricter “vaccine pass”
The French Senate voted early Thursday morning to pass an amended version of a bill that would transform the country’s health pass into a stricter “vaccine pass”.
The bill was passed around 2:30 a.m. Thursday by 249 votes to 63, with 26 abstentions. The vote, chaired by Senate President Gérard Larcher of the right-wing Republicans, follows two long days of relatively quiet debate, contrasting with the tumultuous atmosphere that surrounded the adoption of the bill last week in the National Assembly. .
According to the bill, French residents will have to prove their vaccination status to access restaurants and bars, cultural venues or interregional public transport. A negative Covid-19 test will no longer suffice, except for access to health facilities and services.
Members of the Senate and Assembly will meet early Thursday afternoon at the Palais Bourbon, seeking to reach an agreement on a final version of the bill in a joint committee. If an agreement is reached, the bill will be submitted to final votes in the Senate on Thursday and in the Assembly on Friday.
If the two chambers fail to reach an agreement, the bill will return to both chambers for a further round of amendments and vote, with the Assembly having the final say.
The Senate made several amendments limiting the scope of the bill, putting it at odds with the government of President Emmanuel Macron.
Under the Senate bill, the vaccine pass could only be imposed when the number of Covid-19-related hospitalizations exceeds 10,000 nationwide, and would be automatically suspended below that threshold. The number of hospitalized patients is currently approaching 24,000, according to health authorities.
The senators also limited the vaccine pass requirement to people age 18 and older. Minors aged 12 to 17 would still be required to present a simple health pass, for which a negative test is sufficient.
Describing the text as “significantly improved”, Senator Les Républicains Bruno Retailleau warned the Assembly against derogating from the new provisions.
On the left, Socialist Senator Jean-Pierre Sueur noted that the vaccine pass “closes” to the party’s position in favor of compulsory vaccination.
Among those who voted against the bill were 20 Republicans as well as members of the opposition Communist, Republican, Citizen and Ecologist group, which President Eliane Assassi said would impose a “logic of security”.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)