COVID LAW. What will be the new regulations to fight against Covid-19 in the future in France? The parliamentarians reached an agreement on the health bill in a joint joint committee.
[Mise à jour le 21 juillet à 17h09] 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, was retouched by the senators, who voted for a new bill by 189 votes against 33 on 20 July. The PS, EELV and RDSE groups abstained. The main change is this: there will indeed be a possible recourse to health checks at the borders, a provision that the National Assembly had removed. Thursday, July 21, the text of the senators was the subject of a discussion in a joint committee, that is to say in a parliamentary session bringing together a delegation of deputies and senators to find a compromise. The compromise text found must be voted on one last time by the National Assembly and the Senate.
What can we learn from this law?
This succinct law includes a significant reduction in most of the devices used to fight the virus. 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 therefore 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 remained, 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 (against the March 31, 2023, date initially provided for by the government text) if the law is definitively adopted.
Will a border health pass be required?
The article which provided for the possible establishment of a “border pass”, a sort of health pass at 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 had written 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 to the Assembly protested against the refusal of the majority to reinstate the 15,000 caregivers suspended in 2021 for having refused to be vaccinated.
The senators have changed the text, without certainty that it will be definitively adopted. In its amended version (but therefore not final), the bill establishes a special system: for foreign travelers entering France, a negative test could be required in the event of the appearance of a new variant deemed dangerous. The possibility of a control for people coming from the DOM-TOMs has also been added, it could be introduced if there is a “risk of saturation” of the overseas health system. The text does not provide for any need to present a document justifying a vaccination or Covid recovery to enter France.
The joint joint committee validated this senatorial version, with one exception: in its new version, the bill restores the possibility of requiring a PCR test for minors over 12 at the borders, as well as for travel between Overseas and France.
Any news on wearing a mask?
The bill does not provide for any return of the mask or any new vaccination obligation. But, at the moment, nothing is definitively recorded.
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 still cannot exercise. In the National Assembly, the deputies of insubordinate France and the National Rally supported their reinstatement, pointing to the staff shortages of the public hospital. On this very sensitive point, the senators have changed the bill, entrusting the decision to the High Health Authority (a point validated by the joint joint committee): if this body decides in favor of their reinstatement, unvaccinated caregivers will be “immediately” back to their posts. Remember that the government has a line on this point: trust the scientific authorities. The Academy of Medicine has already expressed its opposition to the reinstatement of suspended health personnel, pointing out their irresponsibility in this regard in the face of the risks they would allow their patients to take.