The French Senate approves the abbreviated version of the “vaccine passport” bill.

The French Senate voted early on Thursday morning to adopt an amended version of a bill that would turn the country’s health pass into a stricter “vaccine pass”.

The bill was adopted around 02:30 on Thursday with 249 votes against 63 and 26 abstentions. The vote, led by Senate President Gerard Larcher of the Right Republicans, followed two long days of relatively calm debate, in contrast to the turbulent climate that had surrounded the bill’s adoption last week in the National Assembly.

According to the bill, French residents will need to prove their vaccination status in order to gain access to restaurants and bars, cultural sites or interregional public transport. A negative Covid-19 test will no longer be sufficient, except for access to health facilities and services.

Members of the Senate and the Assembly will meet early on Thursday afternoon in the Palais Bourbon to try to reach an agreement on a final version of the bill in a joint committee. If an agreement is reached, the bill will be presented for the final vote in the Senate on Thursday and the Assembly on Friday.

If the two chambers fail to reach an agreement, the bill will return to both chambers for a new round of amendments and a vote, with the assembly having the last word.

The Senate has made several changes that limit the scope of the bill, which puts it in conflict with President Emmanuel Macron’s government.

According to the Senate bill, the vaccine passport could only be introduced when the number of Covid-19 hospital admissions exceeds 10,000 across the country, and it would be automatically suspended below this threshold. The number of hospitalized patients is currently close to 24,000, according to health authorities.

The senators also limited the requirement for vaccine passports to people aged 18 and up. Minors aged 12 to 17 would still need to present a simple health card, for which a negative test is sufficient.

Republican Sen. Bruno Retaileau called the text “significantly improved” and warned the House against violating the new rules.

On the left, Socialist Senator Jean-Pierre Sueur noted that the vaccine pass “comes close” to the party’s position in favor of mandatory vaccination.

Among those who voted against the bill were 20 Republicans as well as members of the opposition group Communists, Republicans, Citizens and Ecologists, whose president Eliane Assassi said it would introduce a “security logic”.

( Jowharwith AFP)

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