Faced with record contamination from Covid-19, the Senate dominated by the right began, Tuesday January 11, in a peaceful climate, the examination of the bill establishing the vaccine pass that it should vote on at first reading, but at price of significant changes.
At the very end of the evening, the upper assembly removed the possibility, for the owners of bars, cafes and restaurants, to verify the identity of the holders of the pass. This controversial measure had nevertheless been maintained in committee, on “Light modalities”.
In the afternoon, the Senate, on the other hand, rejected a motion to reject the text as a whole presented by the centrist Loïc Hervé, fervent opponent of the vaccination pass as well as the health pass. Then a series of amendments aimed at the deletion of the flagship article relating to the pass, carried by the Communist, Republican, Citizen and Environmentalist group (CRCE) with a Communist and environmentalist majority, but also a handful of elected Republicans ( LR) and Senator Rassemblement national (RN) Stéphane Ravier.
The period is “Unquestionably difficult, marked in recent days by records of contamination”, “Still 350 000 » today, launched the Minister of Health Olivier Véran, at the start of the discussions. The bill, submitted to the Senate until Wednesday after the National Assembly last week, “Remains entirely guided by the search for a difficult balance, with the primary concern of protecting the French while ensuring the continuity of the life of the nation”, pleaded the minister.
“The solid majority which will vote it will be vigilant on a certain number of conditions, in particular the defense of freedoms, the limitation in time and the always control of the Parliament”, had warned the president LR Gérard Larcher in the morning on France Inter.
Many speakers have estimated, like the rapporteur LR Philippe Bas that the vaccine pass “As useful as it may be, do not respond” to the current health emergency and “Disorder at school, at work and especially at the hospital, for which the government has not prepared the country”.
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 for access to health establishments and services.
Against the advice of the government, the senators have planned to limit 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 health pass.
Another major modification, which the government does not wish to see enshrined in law: Philippe Bas has provided for a mechanism for“Automatic shutdown” of the vaccination pass. Thus, it could only be imposed when the number of hospitalizations linked to Covid-19 exceeds 10,000 patients nationally, and would automatically disappear below this threshold. Hospitals now have more than 25,000 Covid-19 patients, according to figures from health authorities.
Also in the sights of senators, the sanction regime for employers who do not respect the provisions relating to teleworking.
On the left, the president of the CRCE group Eliane Assassi lambasted a “Umpteenth security and intimidation, infantilization bill”, the ecologist Guy Benarroche “The installation of a liberticidal control society”.
For a generalized vaccination obligation, the Socialists judge “Logic to approve the vaccination pass”, said Jean-Pierre Sueur.
“It is viruses that violate freedoms, not vaccines”, hammered the leader of the Independents, Claude Malhuret, for whom “The ideal would be compulsory vaccination”.
The Senate will continue examining the bill on Wednesday. More than a hundred amendments remain to be considered, including nearly fifty on Article 1is acting the transformation of the health pass into a vaccination pass. Among the amendments adopted on this article, that of the centrist Pierre-Antoine Levi aiming to establish gauges proportional to the capacities of stadiums and performance halls, voted despite a double unfavorable opinion from the government and the rapporteur.
Once the bill has been passed by the Senate, deputies and senators will meet in a joint committee to try to find an agreement on a common version. Possibly from Thursday, according to a parliamentary source. In case of failure, a new reading will be organized in both chambers. The Assembly would have the last word, but the mid-January horizon desired by the government for implementation might be difficult to meet, especially in the event of an appeal to the Constitutional Council.
The Academy of Medicine called for its part on Tuesday “To take the plunge” of the vaccination obligation, advocating in a press release to extend the vaccination pass to workplaces, shops and public transport.