French opposition unites to end Covid pass

MPs from the left and right joined forces against France’s coronavirus passport systemFrench opposition unites to end Covid pass

French opposition unites to end Covid pass

FILE PHOTO: Face masks and a digital Covid-19 pass are seen in Montpellier, France, January 27, 2022. ©  AFP / Pascal Guyot

French lawmakers have voted to end the country’s Covid-19 pass, rejecting a provision that would have reinstated the program for those traveling to and from the country after the government’s emergency powers expire at the end of the month.

France’s lower chamber voted 219-195 on Tuesday to amend a major health bill and remove the passport measure, seeing the right-wing National Rally party unite with populist-left faction La France Insoumise.

The legislation will now make its way to the Senate, where recently elected Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne vowed to “fight so that the spirit of responsibility wins.”

“The situation is serious. By joining together to vote against the measures to protect the French against Covid, [the opposition parties] prevent any border control against the virus,” she said in a tweet following the vote.

France just had a major political shake-up

France just had a major political shake-up

READ MORE: France just had a major political shake-up

An emergency nationwide health order is set to expire on July 31, at which point the new health bill will take effect. In its present form, the law would only permit the authorities to collect coronavirus test results, but not bar entry to France based on the health or vaccination status of foreign travelers and citizens returning home. In practice, France has greenlit travel from a long list of countries and no longer requires individuals to show such documents, but the pass nonetheless faced intense opposition from MPs.

Similar restrictions on public venues would also be ruled out under the law, though the health pass is currently limited to hospitals and nursing homes.

While the passport provision was firmly rejected, lawmakers did approve another main article of the legislation by 221-187, allowing the government to continue its contact-tracing efforts well into next year.

France’s ruling coalition failed to win an absolute majority in June’s parliamentary elections, forcing it to rely on the support of opposition parties in order to pass bills in the lower house. A deputy from the center-right Republicans – Sebastien Chenu, who also serves as vice president of the lower chamber – hailed the outcome of Tuesday’s vote, arguing the opposition had “done its job.”

“We have reinstated our freedom,” he said, adding that “the government cannot do everything with a bulldozer like it’s been doing for the past five years.”

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