French MPs draft law to adopt vaccine amid “tidal wave” of Omicron cases
French lawmakers began debating a bill on Monday that would require most people to be vaccinated against Covid-19 to enter public spaces such as bars, restaurants and long-distance public transport.
Nicknamed the “vaccine pass”, the flagship measure of the bill aims to get the remaining five million unvaccinated people in France over the age of 12 to accept an injection.
Until now, a recent negative test was enough to obtain a âhealth passâ giving access to the same activities.
But the Omicron variant of the coronavirus has fueled the average number of daily confirmed cases to more than 160,000 per day over the past week, with peaks above 200,000.
“The tidal wave has indeed arrived, it’s huge, but we will not give in to panic,” Minister of Health Olivier VÃ©ran told Parliament.
Reacting to critics who say the law infringes on people’s civil liberties, Veran added that “selfishness often lurks behind rhetoric about so-called freedom.”
Although there is fierce opposition to the bill from parts of the left and far right, the support of the centrist party of President Emmanuel Macron and most of the opposition conservatives and socialists should do so. go through the lower house.
It is expected to come into force on January 15 after passing through the upper chamber of the Senate.
In addition to the major change to grant access to many aspects of public life based on vaccines, the bill would also result in stiffer penalties for those who share or tamper with their vaccine passes, and for venues. who do not verify them.
Those in possession of a false pass could face a sentence of up to five years in prison and a fine of 75,000 euros ($ 85,000).
France has also changed the rules on how schools should react to infected students, allowing them to return sooner if more frequent follow-up tests turn out negative after just five days.
Later Monday, Prime Minister Jean Castex was due to meet with ministers to discuss the impact on crucial services like hospitals, transport, police and energy of large numbers of people calling for sick.
And after meeting with representatives of employers’ organizations and the tourism, hotel and restaurant sectors, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said the government would extend access to aid to businesses suffering from anti-government measures. -coronavirus.