COVID LAW. In the midst of an epidemic rebound, the government presents its new “Covid law”. Examined by Parliament these days, it is now the subject of debate in public session. But what is she planning?
[Mise à jour le 20 juillet à 14h37] The debate is in full swing at the Luxembourg Palace on July 20. The text of the “Covid law”, presented by the government at the beginning of the month and of which a first version was adopted by the Assembly, is currently the subject of debate in public session. The Senate Constitutional Laws Committee has been examining it since July 13. At the end of this debate, the text will be sent back to the National Assembly. This traditional shuttle between the institutions allows the government to have the deputies and senators vote on new measures to deal with the resurgence of the Covid epidemic. However, this succinct law includes a significant reduction in most of the mechanisms for combating the virus. However, this relaxation was not considered sufficient by the opposition (i.e. LR, RN and Nupes) which had two articles removed from the text of the law during the adoption of its first version by the National Assembly. The suspense therefore hovers over the purpose of this law. Will the positive test tracking tool be retained? Will travelers again be forced to present a health pass to be able to leave or return to the country? The upper house is making progress today on these subjects.
This new law “of monitoring and health security in the fight against Covid-19” is however not binding. The government does not intend to put in place drastic measures and is currently relying on the incentive lever. François Braun, the Minister of Health, confirmed it in the columns of the Parisianfavoring the civility of the population: “I want to make our fellow citizens understand that it is important to protect themselves against the virus, but we are not going to redo a law every time there is a wave. We must succeed to adjust our behavior when viral circulation resumes. We will have other waves, the scientists tell us. Afterwards, if a new dangerous variant appears…”
What does the new Covid bill provide?
The new draft law “monitoring and health security in the fight against Covid-19” is examined by parliamentarians. The deputies voted for a first version on the night of July 12 to 13, after tumultuous debates. But the text validated in the end did not look much like the one proposed by the government. Only the first article remains, which provides for the end of the state of emergency and the extension of the collection and computer processing of screening and contact case data: this collection will be authorized until January 31, 2023 (compared to January 31, 2023). March 2023, date initially provided for by the government text) if the law is definitively adopted.
Will a border health pass be required?
On the other hand, the second article, which provided for the possible establishment of a “border pass”, a sort of health pass at the national borders, was rejected by a large part of the deputies of the left, the National Rally and the Republicans. The measure was therefore not passed. What indignant Elisabeth Borne, who wrote on Twitter: “The time is serious. By joining together to vote against the measures to protect the French against the Covid LFI, the LRs and the RN prevent any border control against the virus .” For its part, the opposition protested against the refusal of the majority to reinstate the 15,000 caregivers suspended in 2021 for having refused to be vaccinated.
Any news on wearing a mask?
It should be noted that the bill does not provide, at this stage, for any return of the mask or any new vaccination obligation. But, at present, nothing has been definitively recorded, amendments having been tabled by senators before a final return of the file to the offices of the National Assembly.
What does the end of the state of health emergency mean?
The new Covid law will ratify a decision to which the vast majority of parliamentarians consent: the state of health emergency, voted on March 23, 2020, will end on July 31, 2022, after multiple extensions. This particular situation allowed the government to take exceptional measures concerning the restriction of freedom of movement, in particular confinements and curfews, or even the establishment of a health or vaccination pass. With the end of this state of health emergency, the government will see itself reduced to the field of possibilities for combating the Covid-19 pandemic: it will no longer be able, for example, to make it compulsory to wear a mask in public spaces, or still decree maximum gauges in certain places.
Will unvaccinated caregivers be reinstated?
Suspended in 2021 because they refused to be vaccinated against Covid-19, around 15,000 caregivers are still waiting to be able to return to their duties. In the National Assembly, the deputies of insubordinate France and the National Rally support their reintegration, pointing to the staff shortages of the public hospital. However, this “is not on the agenda”, decided on July 11, François Braun, the Minister of Health, triggering boos from part of the hemicycle. Raquel Garrido, an insubordinate MP, even defended a motion for the prior rejection of the government’s text, during the opening of discussions the same day. The rejection motion was voted by the deputies of LFI and RN, collecting a total of 174 votes for and 192 against.