The debates were more peaceful than in the Assembly. The Senate dominated by the right-wing opposition voted on Wednesday evening in first reading, after having significantly modified it, the flagship article of the bill strengthening the tools for managing the health crisis, which establishes the vaccination pass. Article 1 of the bill, transforming the health pass into a vaccination pass, was voted by 242 votes in favor and 69 against, under the chairmanship of Gérard Larcher (LR), on the second day of the debates.
The senators, however, made several changes that are not to the taste of the government, auguring a close discussion between deputies and senators in a joint committee on Thursday to find an agreement on the bill. Thus, according to the text voted by the senators, the vaccination pass could only be imposed when the number of hospitalizations linked to Covid-19 would be greater than 10,000 patients nationally, and would automatically disappear below this threshold. The number of hospitalized patients is now nearly 24,000, according to figures from health authorities.
Below the threshold of 10,000 hospitalized patients, the vaccination pass could only be maintained in the departments where the complete vaccination rate is less than 80% of the population or with a high incidence rate. Secretary of State Adrien Taquet judged “not desirable to set quantified criteria in law”, the epidemic “changing in nature regularly”.
Not compulsory for minors
Senators are still planning to limit the possibility of requiring the presentation of a vaccination pass to people over 18 years, against 16 years in the Assembly. In the version of the Senate, minors aged 12 to 17 would remain subject to the obligation to present a simple health pass.
Finally, they removed the possibility for managers of places and activities subject to the pass, such as owners of bars, cafes and restaurants, to verify the identity of its holder, in order to avoid fraud. On the other hand, with the benevolence of the government, the senators voted in favor of a single parental authorization for the vaccination of the 5-11 years, as already for the 12-15 years.
The amended article 1 was voted on by a majority of senators from the LR, centrist, PS, RDPI groups with a majority En Marche, RDSE with a radical majority and the whole of the Independents group.
“No way to discharge the government”
“We want accountability, but we also want proportionality,” said the leader of Senators LR, about 20 of whom voted against and another 20 abstained. “This is not a way to give discharge to the government” on its health policy, he said.
“We have a responsibility in relation to a certain number of rumors or excesses which sometimes make us lose common sense,” added centrist Françoise Gatel. On the left, the socialist Jean-Pierre Sueur noted that the vaccination pass “approaches” the group’s position in favor of compulsory vaccination.
The CRCE groups with a communist and environmentalist majority voted against, the president of the CRCE group Eliane Assassi criticizing “a security logic”. The Senate continued in the night the examination of the other articles of the text until the vote on the whole.