Senate in France votes on Vaccination pass with significantly modified text

The Senate, dominated by the right-wing opposition, voted overnight from Wednesday to Thursday at first reading, after having significantly modified it, the bill strengthening the tools for managing the health crisis, which establishes the vaccine pass . The vote for the entire text was won by 249 votes for and 63 against, under the chairmanship of Gérard Larcher (LR), after two long days of calm debates, contrasting with the agitated climate which had surrounded its adoption the last week in the National Assembly.

Deputies and senators will meet Thursday at the beginning of the afternoon at the Palais-Bourbon, to try to agree on a common version of the text in a joint committee (CMP). If agreed, it will be submitted for final adoption one last time to the vote of the Senate on Thursday and then of the Assembly on Friday. If the CMP fails, the bill will go back to a new reading in both chambers, with the Assembly having the last word. Once the bill has been adopted by Parliament, it will be necessary to be able to justify a vaccination status to access leisure activities, restaurants and bars, fairs or interregional public transport. A negative test will no longer suffice, except to access health facilities and services.

The Senate has made several changes to the text that are not to the liking of the government. The vaccination pass could thus only be imposed when the number of hospitalizations linked to Covid-19 would be greater than 10,000 patients at the national level, and would automatically disappear below this threshold. The number of patients in hospital today is nearly 24,000, according to figures from health authorities.

Senators have further limited the possibility of requiring the presentation of a vaccination pass to people over 18 years of age. Minors aged 12 to 17 would remain subject to the obligation to present a simple health pass. They removed the ability for patrons of bars, cafes and restaurants to verify the identity of the pass holder, to prevent fraud. Finally, they opposed administrative sanctions against companies not playing the game of teleworking or not applying the protocols, in the context of the Covid-19 epidemic.

Touting a “significantly improved” text, the leader of the LR senators Bruno Retailleau affirmed that “sweeping out of hand” in CMP the contributions of the Senate “would be a bad choice”. “We are reaching out, but we won’t do it at any cost,” he added. “We want accountability, but we also want proportionality,” he said earlier. The text was voted by a majority of senators from the LR, centrist, PS, RDPI groups with a majority En Marche!, RDSE with a radical majority and the entire Independents group. Twenty LR senators voted against and another twenty abstained.

“We have a responsibility in relation to a certain number of rumors or excitement which sometimes make us lose common sense”, underlined the centrist Françoise Gatel. On the left, the socialist Jean-Pierre Sueur noted that the vaccination pass “closes” to the group’s position in favor of the vaccination obligation. The majority communist and environmentalist CRCE groups voted against, the president of the CRCE group Éliane Assassi castigating “a security logic”.

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