opposition unites to end Covid pass


MPs from the left and right joined forces against France’s coronavirus passport system

French lawmakers have voted to end the country’s Covid-19 pass, rejecting a provision that would have reinstated the program for those traveling to and from the country after the government’s emergency powers expire at the end of the month.

France’s lower chamber voted 219-195 on Tuesday to amend a key health law and remove the passport measure as the right-wing National Rally party unites with the populist-left faction La France Insoumise.

The legislation will now make its way to the Senate, where recently elected Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne pledged to… “fight so that the spirit of responsibility wins.”

“The situation is serious. By voting together against the measures to protect the French from Covid, [the opposition parties] border control against the virus”, she said in a tweet after the vote.

A nationwide emergency health care ordinance expires on July 31, after which the new health law will come into effect. As it stands, the law would only allow authorities to collect coronavirus test results, but not block entry to France based on the health or vaccination status of foreign travelers and citizens returning home. In practice, France has given the go-ahead for travel from a long list of countries and no longer requires individuals to show such documents, but the pass nonetheless met fierce opposition from MPs.

Similar restrictions on public places would also be legally excluded, although the health pass is currently limited to hospitals and nursing homes.

Although the passport provision was firmly rejected, lawmakers passed another key piece of legislation by 221-187, allowing the government to continue its contact tracing efforts well into next year.

France’s ruling coalition failed to secure an absolute majority in the June parliamentary elections, forcing it to rely on the support of opposition parties to pass bills in the lower house. A representative of the center-right Republicans — Sebastien Chenu, who also serves as vice president of the lower house — praised the outcome of Tuesday’s vote, arguing that the opposition “done his job.”

“We have restored our freedom”, he said, adding that “the government can’t do everything with a bulldozer like it has done for the past five years.”

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