French MPs suspend debate on introduction of vaccine pass

The debate on the replacement of France's health pass with a vaccine pass - effectively barring unvaccinated people from venues including bars and cafés - was the subject of a surprise suspension on Monday night after MPs refused to continue.

Health minister Olivier Véran speaks in parliament during debates on the vaccine pass.
Health minister Olivier Véran speaks in parliament during debates on the vaccine pass. Photo: Stephane du Sakatin/AFP

The bill’s headline measure is aimed at getting France’s remaining five million unvaccinated people over 12 to accept a shot.

At present a health pass is required to access numerous everyday venues including bars, cafés, restaurants, cinemas, theatres, gyms, leisure centres and long distance train travel – but a recent negative test is accepted for the health pass.

The bill aims to replace the health pass with a vaccine pass – which would only allow people who are fully vaccinated to gain access to those venues.

The debate began in the Assemblée nationale on Monday, but later on Monday a majority of MPs refused to continue to debate by a show of hands, leading to the suspension of the motion.

The debate was scheduled to continue until the early hours, but MPs said they simply did not have enough time to examine all aspects of the bill.

the debate will restart on Tuesday evening, but this could mean that the government’s desired introduction date for the vaccine pass of January 15th will have to be put back.

The Omicron variant of coronavirus has stoked average daily confirmed cases to more than 160,000 per day over the past week, with peaks above 200,000.

“The tidal wave has indeed arrived, it’s enormous, but we will not give in to panic,” Health Minister Olivier Véran told parliament.

Reacting to critics who say the law infringes on people’s civil liberties, Véran added that “selfishness often hides behind talk of supposed liberty”.

Although there is fierce opposition to the bill in parts of the left and far-right, the support of President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist party and most opposition conservatives and socialists should see it through the lower house.

It is expected to come into force on January 15th after passing through the upper house Senate.

As well as the headline shift to granting access to many aspects of public life based on vaccines, the bill would also mean heavier penalties for those sharing or forging their vaccine passes, and for venues failing to check up on them.

People holding or making a fake pass could face a sentence as high as five years in prison and a fine of €75,000.

France has also tweaked rules for how schools should react to infected pupils, allowing them to return sooner if more frequent follow-up tests prove negative after just five days.

Later Monday, Prime Minister Jean Castex was expected to meet with ministers to discuss the impact on crucial services like hospitals, transport, policing and energy from large numbers of people calling in sick.

And after meeting representatives from employers’ organisations, and the tourism, hotel and restaurant industries, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said the government would extend access to aid for businesses suffering under anti-Covid measures.

Member comments

  1. It doesn’t sit happily with the hippocratic medical oath to deny hospital treatment to those without a pass. The law is supposed to permit emergency treatment but when hospitals, like Bergerac Hospital, refuse to carry out x-rays how is the level of emergency to be determined. I believe this is the only country in the world refusing medical treatment to those refusing to take an experimental vaccine and the French public should perhaps ask themselves why that is.

    1. Access to a hospital is still on the basis of a negative test. Do you have any evidence (a link please) for any change to that?

      1. Non-emergency access is on the basis of the health pass. Read the directive or phone Bergerac hospital. Since Parliament is about to make the health pass conditional on being fully vaccinated, non-emergency hospital treatment will also be conditional ( including those measures , according to Bergerac hospital ) which might determine if there is an emergency situation.)

          1. Thank you for the link. I hope that proves to be the case . It seems unlikely however that they will go from requiring the health pass now to requiring nothing when it becomes a vaccine pass.

  2. I think the vaccine pass is a step too far.
    99% of people who contract COVID do not require hospital treatment, so yes the vaccine helps reduce the effects however we need some context, that the illness has a mild impact to the vast majority who contract it.

    Therefore if a person chooses not to vaccinate however proves they are negative via an up to date test, then why should they not be allowed into certain venue’s?
    These same venue’s that allow access to the vaccinated masses some of which might be positive, however they can show the all powerful QR code.

    Personally I believe its an overreaction and begin to question the “we must vaccine at all costs” approach.
    Eldery and vulnerable yes, the rest…………no need to enforce …..leave it an optional.

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Swedish opposition seeks deal on new post-election rule

Sweden's opposition leader has called for an agreement with Sweden's Prime Minister that no government should be allowed to form in future if it does not have support in parliament for its budget.

Swedish opposition seeks deal on new post-election rule

Ulf Kristersson, leader of the Moderate Party, said that there should not be a repeat of the situation seen in last two mandate periods, where the Social Democrats have twice had to rule on a budget drawn up by the right-wing opposition. 

“It is not sustainable that a government grips tightly to power when it cannot get its economic policies passed,” he told Magdalena Andersson during Prime Minister’s question time in the Swedish parliament. “Can the two of us agree that no government should take power without having secured support for its economic policies?” 

It was unclear whether this was a serious proposal or a gambit intended to underline the weakness of the government in the run-up to Sweden’s general election in September. 

Securing support for economic policies is arguably more of a challenge for Magdalena Andersson, as two of the parties likely to support her as Prime Minister after the election, the Centre Party and the Left Party, are deeply divided on economic politics, even though they are united on their unwillingness to back a government dependent on the populist Sweden Democrats. 

The Centre Party has supported Andersson as Prime Minister without voting for the Social Democrats’ budget.  

Kristersson’s call comes after the Social Democrats on Wednesday called for its own budget proposition to fall after a compromise on pensions agreed with the Centre Party was blocked by the parliament’s finance committee from being put before parliament. 

“This was a graphic example of the government’s impotence and the decay of government power,” he said.

Sweden’s prime minister, Magdalena Andersson, did not respond to Kristersson’s proposal, but pointed out that after the last election he had failed to establish a government at all. 

“I think that many among the Swedish people wonder what is happening in parliament just now and think that it is chaotic and incomprehensible,” she said. “My ambition is to establish a government that can get through its economic policies.”