State of emergency and health pass, the Senate sets its conditions



Adopted on October 20 by the Assembly, the bill “Health vigilance” is examined in session, this Thursday, October 28, in the Senate. In the context of a possible fifth wave of Covid, the text allows the government to resort to a state of health emergency and exceptional measures such as the health pass and compulsory vaccination for certain professions.

→ ANALYSIS. Covid-19: France between hope and vigilance in the face of a fifth wave

The main difference between the majority and the opposition concerns the length of the prorogation. The bill aims to open this ” toolbox “ until July 31, so as to span the electoral period, the assemblies no longer sitting from March. An unacceptable prospect for the senatorial right which should vote for amendments setting the limit for February 28. For the rapporteur Philippe Bas (LR), it is about “Restrictions on fundamental freedoms” only possible “For a limited period allowing the effective control of Parliament”.

“At the end of February, we will have passed the winter episode, we will see more clearly the situation of the Delta variant, even if it means voting for new measures”, also justifies Pascale Gruny (LR). And even if parliamentary work is then suspended, the chambers can be convened at any time if the situation requires it, she insists.

The government does not intend to back down

Before the deputies, the Minister of Health had promised a debate in mid-February but, heard by the senators, Olivier Véran reiterated that the government did not intend to back down on the calendar.

→ ANALYSIS. Covid-19: extension of the health pass, a “eminently political subject”

“We are at the tenth text examined since the start of the crisis, argues the deputy Jean-Pierre Pont (LREM), rapporteur to the Assembly, and the government has already been allowed to activate exceptional measures for a long period of time. “ He also recalls that a state of emergency can only be declared for a period of four weeks, beyond which its extension requires a vote in parliament.

This is not enough to convince the opposition. “We do not know which government will be in place after the presidential elections, we cannot accept such a blank check”, says Pascale Gruny. The blockage therefore seems total and the next joint committee between the two assemblies has little chance of succeeding. The majority could, however, take action on other disputed points, such as access to the vaccination status of students by school directors. The senatorial opposition also wants a more controlled pass. An amendment proposes that it is no longer possible in departments with more than 75% of their population vaccinated.

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