Health pass: last hours of suspense in Parliament, vaccination is progressing

The day after a new day of mobilization of its opponents, the anti-Covid health pass could be adopted definitively on Sunday evening, if deputies and senators reach an agreement, but the way is narrow and an extension of the debates cannot be excluded.

At the same time, the executive continues to push vaccination, in the hope of passing the 40 million first-time vaccines “by Monday at the latest”, one month ahead of the initial objective.

From Polynesia where he is traveling, Emmanuel Macron wanted to send “a very strong message to call on everyone to be vaccinated” to protect themselves and others.

The Head of State also called for the parliamentary debate on the health pass “to take place in peace and efficiency”.

The Senate, dominated by the right-wing opposition, voted in the night from Saturday to Sunday, by 199 votes against 123, the bill which provides for the vaccination obligation for caregivers and the controversial extension of the health pass. But with important modifications compared to the text approved by the National Assembly, and which are not to the liking of the government.

Deputies and senators will they manage to find a compromise, in a joint committee, from 3:00 p.m. This is the scenario favored by the executive because it would allow final adoption of the bill in the evening, for application of the extended pass in early August.

A disagreement would derail this very constrained schedule, forcing a new parliamentary shuttle.

The boss of senators LR Bruno Retailleau on Saturday brandished the threat of a disagreement, “if the deputies want to strike out the work of the Senate”.

But time is running out in the face of an unprecedented outbreak of contamination linked to the spread of the Delta variant of Covid-19, which is very contagious. Once adopted, the text will still have to pass the filter of the Constitutional Council, before its promulgation.

An additional step, to which Prime Minister Jean Castex himself chose to submit in order to protect himself from accusations of attacks on public freedoms.

– More than 160.0000 demonstrators –

After a first national mobilization on July 17, dozens of demonstrations again took place on Saturday.

“For freedom” and “against the health dictatorship”: more than 160,000 people, according to the Interior Ministry, marched across the country, from 500 on the island of Saint-Martin in the West Indies to 11,000 in Paris .

One of the Parisian processions, made up mainly of “yellow vests”, was punctuated by sporadic incidents. At the call of the President of the Patriots Florian Philippot, several thousand people also gathered at the Trocadéro.

The health pass, “we would have done well if the context was different,” Health Minister Olivier Véran told Le Parisien. And “we’ll end it as soon as we can.”

The stake for the executive is to try to speed up a 4th epidemic wave feared by scientists and the minister as “strong with a hospital impact which could be very hard in mid or at the end of August”.

In addition to the vaccination obligation for caregivers, firefighters or professionals working with the elderly, the bill provides for an extension of the health pass (complete vaccination course, recent negative test or certificate of recovery) at the beginning of August in coffee shops, fairs and exhibitions, planes, long-distance trains and coaches, medical establishments.

The Calvados prefecture announced a “voluntary experiment” from Sunday in the bars and restaurants of Deauville and Trouville, in the face of a sharp increase in cases.

The health pass is already in force in places of leisure and culture (cinemas, museums, etc.) bringing together more than 50 people, except for 12-17 year olds, who are exempt during the holidays. The objective is clearly for the government to encourage vaccination.

The senatorial majority revised the device to make it “clearer” and “more respectful of human rights and freedoms”. In particular, it conditioned the extension of the pass on the reestablishment of a state of health emergency, until October 31, and planned to exempt shopping centers.

Some amendments adopted in the Senate have divided the right, such as the exemption of the pass in terraces or for minors, measures which could be reviewed in the rest of the discussions.

The bill also provides for compulsory isolation for the sick, a provision relaxed by the senators.

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