French Senate adopts vaccine pass bill with major caveats
New bill exempt minors, eliminates checks by restaurants, cafes; implemented when hospital admissions above 10,000 patients
French lawmakers adopted a decisive vaccine pass bill Thursday with major caveats, blowing holes in the Macron government's plan to restrict entry for those who are unvaccinated to public places.
The Senate, which is dominated by right-wing parties, voted 249 - 63, with 26 abstentions, following an intense debate for more than two days about the vaccine pass constraining public freedom.
Under the original text, anyone older than 12 would have been required to prove their complete vaccination status to enter restaurants, cafes and bars, transport, cinemas, sports centers, and other public venues. A negative PCR test would have no longer been accepted.
But the approved text with several amendments exempts minors from the purview of the bill, eliminates checks for vaccine proof by restaurants and cafeterias, and issues fines to private companies that refuse employees the option to work from home.
The version passed by Senators in the upper house of parliament would allow the imposition of the vaccination pass when the number of hospital admissions linked to coronavirus is above the threshold of 10,000 patients nationally or in areas where the rate of complete vaccination is less than 80%, or have a high incidence rate.
The pass would be deactivated when admissions are below the threshold.
The Deputy leader of the ruling LREM party, Aurore Berge, deplored the amendments which “no longer” make it a vaccine pass. “With such conditions, it makes less and less sense about its effectiveness,” she told PublicSenat news, adding that the inclusion of thresholds was “an absolute red line."
In lieu of the modifications, the bill will be again tabled for discussion with a joint committee of elected officials having to reach an agreement between the original text and the amended version.
The bill will then be sent to Parliament for final approval.
The government wanted to impose the law on Jan. 15 but its implementation will likely be delayed.