The executive wants to give itself some leeway in the face of a possible resurgence of the Covid epidemic during the presidential election, by extending the possibility of using the disputed health pass until July 31, 2022, according to a draft bill expected on October 13 in the Council of Ministers.
This text, which AFP was able to consult, toughens the penalties for fraud with the health pass, up to five years’ imprisonment and 75,000 euros in fines. And according to this same version sent to the Council of State, the current legal regime, which makes it possible to locally limit the movements of people or to close certain establishments in the event of increased circulation of the virus, is also extended until July 31, 2022.
And the state of health emergency is extended until the end of the year in Guyana, “given a particularly high level of incidence today”.
But attention will first focus on the health pass, extended Thursday to 12-17 year olds and which crystallized this summer the anger of tens of thousands of people who took to the streets. On Saturday, they were still 60,000, a figure however that is steadily declining.
“What we want, what we are going to propose to Parliament, is to maintain for several more months, until the summer, the possibility (of) resorting” to the health pass, said the government spokesman. Gabriel Attal at the end of the Council of Ministers, while the legal possibility of implementing the pass expires on November 15.
“We must give ourselves the means to have the possibility of resorting to measures, if it is necessary, to protect the French”, he added. “Our wish, our hope is that it is not not the case, ”he insisted.
According to the law, the government considers that “the risk of an epidemic rebound remains high, in particular as the winter period approaches, which is conducive to an acceleration of viral circulation, and does not make it possible to envisage immediately the lifting of preventive health measures on metropolitan territory “.
The government, which has been wondering in recent weeks about the advisability of extending this tool by only a few weeks or rather a few months, has therefore decided “to step over the deadline for the presidential election”, in order to allow, in case of epidemic rebound, to “put back the health pass as part of a campaign where Parliament no longer sits”, according to Mr. Attal.
The Parliament is indeed supposed to finish its work in public session at the end of February 2022, because of the electoral campaign, even if it can sit again if necessary.
“The stake for us is not to say that we will prolong the constraints indefinitely” and “we obviously have reasons to be optimistic thanks to the vaccination”, qualified Mr. Attal. “But the 18 months that have passed have shown us that we must always remain cautious and vigilant,” pleaded the spokesperson.
After receiving the opinion of the Council of State, there will then “be a parliamentary discussion”, recalled Mr. Attal, sweeping aside the criticisms of the oppositions accusing the executive of stifling the debate.
“Whatever we do, the oppositions will scream”, squeaks a close friend of the president, pleading to act as of this fall of an extension until the summer of 2022 of the health pass. Because “if we approach the election they will cry louder. For us, it will be a bad time to pass but it is not very serious”, he adds.
On the night of July 25 to 26, Parliament adopted the health pass system introduced until November 15. To go further, a new vote is necessary.
The pass became compulsory on July 21 in places accommodating more than 50 people. It was then extended to hospitals except emergencies, bars and restaurants, large shopping centers by prefectural decision and on August 30 to 1.8 million employees in contact with the public.