The veille et de sécurité sanitaire bill is a roadmap for how the government intends to handle the Covid situation after the current health state of emergency ends on July 31st.
The proposed legislation had provided for the possibility, if required, to restore the health pass for travel in and out of France, meaning travellers over the age of 12 would again have to show proof they have been vaccinated against the virus, have a recent negative PCR test, or have sufficient immunity after recently contracting the virus, in order to be allowed to enter France.
But, during a heated first reading – the atmosphere in the chamber was likened to a football match – MPs voted to remove the key article on the return of the health pass for travellers entering France from other countries.
The modified bill was adopted by 221 votes to 187 and 24 abstentions – mostly by MPs from the left – in the final vote on Tuesday night.
The bill – which in its current form merely allows authorities to continue to collect health data on screening tests – must now go to the Senate.
“The times are serious,” Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said on Twitter, as she promised to “fight for the spirit of responsibility to prevail in the Senate.”
L’heure est grave. En s’alliant pour voter contre les mesures de protection des Français face au Covid LFI, les LR et le RN empêchent tout contrôle aux frontières face au virus.Passée l’incrédulité sur ce vote, je me battrai pour que l’esprit de responsabilité l’emporte au Sénat.
— Élisabeth BORNE (@Elisabeth_Borne) July 12, 2022
Health Minister François Braun also promised to “fight” in the Senate to restore the removed article to the bill, which he said had been “emptied of part of its content”.
On July 8th, France passed 150,000 Covid-19 related deaths since the start of the pandemic in 2020.
The country has seen a spike in infections since the end of June, due to the presence of the highly contagious Omicron and subvariants.
National health agency Santé Publique France reported around 120,000 infections per day over the week.
More than 1,000 patients with Covid are in intensive care, while over 17,000 remain in hospital.
France’s current health rules specify the use of the health pass only for hospitals and nursing homes – it is no longer in use for everyday venues like bars, restaurants, gyms or cinemas.
Masks are “strongly recommended” on public transport, but are only compulsory in hospitals and health establishments.
International arrivals from certain countries are required to show proof of either vaccination or a recent negative test, but most of the world is now on France’s ‘green’ list of countries with minimal travel restrictions.