Covid-19 in France

French MPs finally approve controversial vaccine pass after stormy debate

Fierce debate in the French parliament focused on measures to clamp down on fraud, including allowing restaurant owners to ask for proof of identity.
Fierce debate in the French parliament focused on measures to clamp down on fraud, including allowing restaurant owners to ask for proof of identity. AFP - JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN

France’s National Assembly has approved a bill to transform the government's health pass into a vaccine pass following three days of acrimonious debate. The legislation, which also includes other measures to curb the spread of Covid, comes as France registers a record number of daily cases.

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Lawmakers approved the legislation in the early hours of Thursday morning in a vote of 214 for and 93 against, sending the measures to the Senate for further examination before a vote to make it law by mid-January.

The ruling LaRem party insisting the measures are essential to save lives.

President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday saying his intent was to "piss off" those who have not been vaccinated against the virus.

One of the main parts of the bill includes transforming the existing health pass, needed for access to restaurants, cafes and other locations, into a vaccine pass, for which only fully-vaccinated people qualify.

Divisive issues

Criticism of the legislation came from the far right and far left, whose lawmakers decried limits to personal freedom, and were among those who voted against.

Debate overnight Wednesday focused in particular on measures to clamp down on fraud, including allowing restaurant and cafe owners to ask for proof of identity to accompany a vaccine pass.

The issue divided the right-wing Les Repbulicains, who had publicly expressed support for the legislation, but whose lawmakers ended up split, with 28 voting for the bill and 24 against and 22 abstaining.

The bill was on an accelerated path through the legislation, and it will be now up to the Senate to vote after it starts examining it starting next Tuesday.

The measures, including the vaccine pass, are to come into fore on 15 January, and will be required for those aged 16 years and up.  

Record number of infections

On Wednesday, France registered more than 332,000 new Covid infections, a new daily record after the previous day’s numbers topped 300,000 for the first time.

According to Health Minister Olivier Véran, some 66,000 people received a first dose of the vaccine, an increase that he attributes to the pressure coming from the government.

Around five million people in France are still unvaccinated, 20 percent of them considered to be at high risk.

(with wires)

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