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The controversial bill extending until July 31, 2022 the possible use of the health pass, whose deadline was scheduled for November 15, is presented Wednesday in the Council of Ministers.
“Blank check” or a simple “toolbox”? The bill extending until July 31, 2022 the possible use of the health pass is presented Wednesday in the Council of Ministers, under fire from the oppositions which challenge the decision to step over the presidential election.
The text, which AFP was able to consult, was however slightly amended after its passage in the Council of State to include the presentation by the government of a “report” to Parliament, providing an update on the measures taken. and “specifying the reasons for maintaining some of them, if any”. This review must take place at least three months after the publication of the law, and “no later than February 28, 2022”, the date of the end of the parliamentary session.
At the same time, the text presented on Wednesday toughens the penalties for fraud in the health pass, up to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of 75,000 euros. But it does not resolve the thorny case of the articulation of this pass with the gradual deployment of the third dose of vaccines, for the time being reserved for the elderly or vulnerable.
Although the ebb of the Covid-19 epidemic is continuing over most of the territory, the executive intends to put an end to any reckless trial in the event of a resurgence, by extending the legality of the health pass, whose deadline was scheduled for 15 November, until the middle of next summer.
As for the current legal regime, which makes it possible to locally limit the movements of people or to close certain establishments in the event of a strong epidemic recovery, it is also extended from November 15 until July 31, 2022.
This eight-month bonus is also cringe on the right and on the left, because it evacuates the debate of the campaign and the elections that will mark the first half of 2022.
“There is no question of giving a blank check until July 31, 2022, it must be under the control of Parliament”, thundered Tuesday on Franceinfo the President of the Senate Gérard Larcher.
“This means that, in February, we will have to discuss again the continuation of the process of exiting the emergency”, he added, denouncing “an attack on individual and collective freedoms”.
“Festival of demagoguery”
Received by videoconference Tuesday by Jean Castex, during a parliamentary liaison committee, the deputies Jean-Christophe Lagarde (UDI and Independents) and Sébastien Jumel (communist) announced their opposition to such a delay without consulting Parliament. Same tone among the senators who meant that “the debate” at the Luxembourg Palace “was going to be played on the place of control of the Parliament”, according to a participant in the meeting.
After having hesitated to introduce a review clause in Parliament in the first quarter of 2022, the majority made the calculation that “whatever we do the oppositions will scream”. “And if we approach the election they will yell louder. For us, it will be a bad moment to pass but it is not very serious”, advance a relative of the president.
This new bill is “a toolbox” in which the government can draw in case of need, defended for his part Olivier Becht, boss of the Agir group, one of the components of the presidential majority. And the same predicts “a festival of demagoguery” if Parliament returns “three weeks before the presidential election”.
“The stake for us is not to say that we will prolong the constraints indefinitely”, had for his part pleaded at the end of September the spokesman of the government Gabriel Attal.
The executive, which has ruled out making vaccination compulsory, has made the health pass a pivot of its anti-covid strategy, provoking for more than three months demonstrations which brought together about 40,000 people last Saturday.
The pass became mandatory on July 21 in places accommodating more than 50 people before being introduced in hospitals (except emergencies), bars and restaurants, then extended on August 30 to 1.8 million employees in contact with the public and end of September for 12-17 year olds.
The end of the free admission of certain so-called “comfort” tests on October 15 constitutes a new stage in this strategy, by further encouraging vaccination.