Covid-19: why the bill to extend the health pass is contested

The opposition has already expressed its dissatisfaction. A bill presented to the Council of Ministers on Wednesday October 13 provides for extending the possible use of the health pass until July 31, 2022. Lack of control by Parliament, date set for next summer, unclear in the next terms of application … Here is why this extension is contested.

Because he spans the presidential election

The new deadline, set for July 31, 2022, is well beyond the presidential election scheduled for April 10 and 24. Despite the ebb of the Covid-19 epidemic, the executive is highlighting its desire to avoid any unpredictable trial in the event of a resurgence. He therefore wants to extend the legality of the health pass, the expiry of which was scheduled for November 15, until the middle of next summer. At the same time, 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 resumption, is also extended until July 31, 2022.

This eight-month bonus makes cringe on the right and on the left, because it evacuates the debate around the health pass of the presidential campaign, as argued by President The Republicans of the Senate, Gérard Larcher, on Tuesday, on franceinfo.

“There is no question of giving a blank check until July 31, 2022.

Gerard Larcher

to franceinfo

This extension must “either under the control of Parliament”, Gérard Larcher argued again. “It 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”.

Because Parliament is not consulted

A debate in February is considered too late by several members of the opposition. Admittedly, the text, which AFP was able to consult, was amended after its passage in the Council of State to include the presentation by the government of a “report” in Parliament, providing a progress report on the measures taken and “specifying the reasons for maintaining some of them, if applicable”. This assessment, it is specified, must take place at least three months after the publication of the law and “no later than February 28, 2022 “, date of the end of the parliamentary session.

The deputies Jean-Christophe Lagarde (UDI and Independents) and Sébastien Jumel (communist), received by videoconference Tuesday by Jean Castex for a parliamentary liaison committee, have indicated their opposition to such a delay without consulting Parliament. Same tone among senators who have meant that “the debate was going to be played out in the place of control of the Parliament”, according to a meeting participant. At the end of September, Senator LR Alain Houpert estimated that the decision to extend the health pass required “in a democracy, the opinion of parliament”.

After hesitating to introduce a review clause in Parliament in the first quarter of 2022, the majority, for its part, did the math: “Whatever we do, the oppositions will scream and if we approach the election, they will scream louder.” For us, it will be a bad time to pass, but it’s not a big deal “, says a relative of the president quoted by AFP. This new bill is only “a toolbox“in which the government can draw if necessary, defended for his part Olivier Becht, boss of the Agir group, one of the components of the presidential majority.

Because he doesn’t mention the third dose

Finally, the last argument of the opponents of this bill, it does not resolve the thorny case of the articulation of this pass with the gradual deployment of the booster dose of vaccines, for the time being reserved for the elderly or vulnerable.

At the same time, the text presented on Wednesday toughens the penalties for fraud with the health pass, up to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of 75,000 euros. The pass became compulsory 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.

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