French parliament approves introduction of vaccine pass

The bill changing France's health pass into a vaccine pass which bars the unvaccinated from venues including cafés, gyms and long-distance trains has been approved by the French parliament and is expected to enter into effect this week.

Health pass control in France
Proof of vaccination will now be required to enter leisure and cultural venues in France. Photo: Pascal Pochard Casablanca/AFP

MPs in the Assemblée nationale voted on the bill’s final reading on Sunday evening, with 215 in favour of the vaccine pass and 58 against.

France has had a health pass in place since the summer, requiring visitors to venues including bars, restaurants, cafés, gyms, leisure centres, theatres, cinemas, tourist sites, large gatherings and long-distance trains to show either proof of vaccination, proof of recent recovery from Covid or a negative Covid test.

However, the passing of this bill means means that only proof of vaccination will be accepted for the pass.

READ ALSO What changes when France’s health pass becomes a vaccine pass?

The new rule is expected to come into force this week, with Friday, January 21st suggested as a likely start date.

The government’s original planned start date was January 15th, but the bill was delayed several times as it passed through the Assemblée nationale on the first reading, the Senate and then back to the Assemblée nationale.

Some of the opposition parties have said they intend to appeal to the Constitutional Council, which considers whether new laws or decrees in France comply with the country’s constitution.

For people who are already vaccinated and use either a paper vaccination certificate or the TousAntiCovid app to enter health pass venues, nothing will change.

But unvaccinated people will be shut out of a wide range of leisure and cultural venues, although vaccination is only mandatory for health workers in France. 

Member comments

  1. Q ? – Is the plan to keep the vaccine passport only until the Cov.19 Pandemic is over or is the plan that once the pandemic is over the Health Pass be re-tasked to exclude members of society that do not take, say, a flu vaccine ?

    Q ? – Does anyone know where it is that the establishment are developing an ‘anti-social scoring matrix ‘ that is embedded into their National identity pass necessary for access to all manor of aspects of life – in their case, simply put should you in any way offend society you get a black mark which is recorded and then effects you in a number of ways – such as the ability to get Credit, access restaurants, shopping malls and so forth. A – China.

    The most effective tools of a government (with aspiration for more control) is to plant into the conversation of society “what are you trying to hide” – “if you are a good member of society society will reward you with inclusion” –

    If you accept the loss of these freedoms easily – only when you look back and see the aggregate value of the liberty and freedom of self determination you have talked yourself out of will you regret giving up each small piece of freedom so easily now.

    So – when the pandemic is over will the Health Pass go ? And if not why not. We cannot develop a vaccine to give the population without any new Covid variant so when that scenario evolves – which it will do soon, why would we see a continued insistence on the Health Pass.

    I am vaccinated and happy to be so – why should it matter to me if my next door neighbour is un-vaccinated. The vaccine protects me (allegedly) so the only person at risk is my neighbour and that is his choice – surely ?

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‘Dangerous for democracy’: French to protest pension reform in new rallies

France braced for new strikes and mass demonstrations against a deeply unpopular pensions overhaul on Tuesday, a day after lawmakers started debating the controversial bill.

'Dangerous for democracy': French to protest pension reform in new rallies

President Emmanuel Macron put the reforms the heart of his re-election campaign last year, and is determined to implement them despite fierce opposition from the political left and unions, but also the wider public.

Tuesday’s protests are the third such nationwide rallies organised since the start of the year.

Last week’s demonstrations brought out 1.3 million people across the country, according to the police, while unions claimed more than 2.5 million people took part.

They were the largest such protests in France since 2010.

Trains and the Paris metro are again expected to see “severe disruptions” on Tuesday, operators said, with around one in five flights at Orly airport south of the capital expected to be cancelled.

“We’re counting on there being rallies so that the country’s elected representatives take into account the opinion of citizens,” Philippe Martinez, leader of the hardline CGT union, told the France 2 broadcaster on Monday.

The union leader blamed the personality of President Emmanuel Macron and his “oversized ego” for wanting “to show that he is capable of passing a reform, no matter what the opinion of French citizens”.

Martinez said it would be “dangerous for democracy” if the French government pushed through with the reform and refused to listen to the people.

More marches are planned for Saturday, although unions for rail operator SNCF said they would not call for a strike at the weekend, a holiday getaway date in some regions.

Macron’s proposal includes hiking the retirement age from 62 to 64 years old – still lower than in many European countries – and increasing the number of years people must make contributions for a full pension.

His ruling party is hoping to pass the bill with the help of allies on the political right, without having to resort to controversial executive powers that dispense with the need for a ballot.

But members of the left-wing opposition are staunchly opposed, and have filed thousands of amendments.

Reform or bankruptcy

Members of Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne’s government struggled to defend the overhaul as necessary in parliament on Monday, with many in the lower house booing.

As pressure grew, Borne on Sunday offered a key concession, saying people who started work aged 20 or 21 would be allowed to leave work a year earlier.

But the head of the CFDT union, Laurent Berger, dismissed the offer as a mere “band aid” – not a response to widespread public criticism.

Macron aims to lift the pensions system out of deficit by 2030 by finding around €18 billion of annual savings – mostly from pushing people to work for longer and abolishing some special retirement schemes.

“It’s reform or bankruptcy,” Public Accounts Minister Gabriel Attal said in parliament on Monday.

But critics say that women will on average have to wait longer for retirement than men, as many have interruptions in their careers from childbearing and care responsibilities.

Opponents also say the reform fails to adequately account for people in physically strenuous jobs like builders and does not deal with companies’ reluctance to hire and retain older workers.

Borne claimed the government would pile pressure on companies to end the practice of letting go older employees, which leaves many struggling to find work in their final years before pension age.