Less than half of the total members of the French National Assembly – 260 out of 577 – attended the night session held from Oct. 20 to Oct. 21. Of the 260 present, 135 voted to approve the "sanitary surveillance bill" extending the state of emergency in the entire country. Only 125 voted against it.
The bill will give French President Emmanuel Macron additional powers to lift, extend or reimpose COVID-19 restrictions – such as lockdowns, curfews and vaccine passports – over the next eight months without parliamentary control. Macron's emergency powers will go beyond the French presidential election on April 22 next year.
However, Macron cannot count on an automatic majority in the higher chamber, and voices have been raised in favor of freedom. Even left-wing senators are showing signs of wanting to resist.
During the same session, the lower house also approved an amendment permitting directors of secondary schools to find out the vaccination status of their students. School directors will obtain this information from the public health insurance system, the amendment noted.
The French government defended the amendment, saying that it facilitates "the organization of screening and vaccination campaigns" and the arrangement of teaching conditions "so as to prevent the risk of spreading the virus."
France currently makes use of the sanitary pass, its version of a vaccine passport, as proof that someone has received the COVID-19 injection. The pass accepts proof of full vaccination, a recent recovery from COVID-19 or a negative PCR or antigen test less than three days old. (Related: No liberty for the unvaccinated: France, Italy to roll out coronavirus passports.)
On Aug. 9, France mandated the pass for all adults. The sanitary pass has been required for leisure, sports and cultural activities; access to food establishments; rail transport and non-emergency hospital treatments. The mandate was extended to those aged 12 to 17 on Sept. 30.
The French government appears to be following a conflicting stance. While it says that the COVID-19 vaccine is never mandatory, it subtly coerces the population to get injected.
French officials have repeatedly assured the public that it has no intention of making the sanitary pass a necessity for society. But with many establishments requiring the sanitary pass as a condition of entry, it has been considered a vaccine mandate in disguise. (Related: Macron says French citizens who want to shop, dine, travel or worship must get vaccinated for covid.)
Macron earlier touched on the possibility of lifting, or even scrapping altogether, COVID-19 restrictions in areas where cases were extremely low. He said that France could, "in territories where the virus is spreading less quickly, lift certain constraints – [letting people] live normally as soon as the health conditions allow it."
The French leader's remarks followed his earlier statements saying that certain locations in France "will be led toward reducing the rules" and that the country "was on the right path" in addressing the pandemic.
Macron also promised that the sanitary pass would not become a requirement for everyday activities such as eating out. However, the French leader reiterated on Sept. 17 that the health pass requirements would remain in place for the succeeding three weeks.
Macron's Sept. 17 remarks aligned with what he said earlier that month about extending the sanitary pass requirement if the situation calls for it. "We cannot rule out that this temporary tool will still be needed in areas under intense pressure due to the pandemic to prevent having to close venues," he said.
French Health Minister Olivier Veran agreed with the president, saying at that time that it's still "too early" to consider scrapping the sanitary pass.
Currently, the French government has obtained parliamentary approval for the pass until Nov. 15, 2021. Given the recent approval of the sanitary surveillance bill extending the pass's validity until July 2022, the country appears to have no intention of loosening COVID-19 measures currently in place.
MedicalTyranny.com has more articles about the French government's sanitary pass mandate.