French Assembly Approves COVID-19 ‘Health Pass’ on Second Attempt

May 12, 2021 Updated: May 12, 2021

PARIS—France’s National Assembly approved on May 12 the creation of a COVID-19 “health pass” that people can use to attend sports events, festivals, and theme parks with large crowds, a hotly contested government measure to help safely reopen the economy.

The health pass, which will take effect on June 9, will provide proof that a person has either been vaccinated against the coronavirus, holds a recent negative PCR test, or is recovering from COVID-19 and therefore has natural antibodies.

The proposal initially was rejected in the lower house on May 11 over fears it would impinge on civil freedoms, a rare defeat for President Emmanuel Macron’s ruling party, after centrist MoDem allies rebelled.

MoDem lawmakers accused the government of being deaf to the party’s red lines.

Epoch Times Photo
A woman, wearing a protective face mask, walks past a closed restaurant in Paris amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in France, on May 6, 2021. (Sarah Meyssonnier/Reuters)

The health pass was approved on a second vote in the early hours of May 12 after the government shortened the transition period during which it will be able to reimpose restrictions such as a curfew without the permission of parliament once France’s state of emergency is lifted on June 2.

France has begun slowly unwinding a third national lockdown, despite registering nearly 20,000 new cases every day and with intensive care wards still saturated.

On May 19, restaurants, cafes and bars will be allowed to reopen for outdoor service and shops, museums, and cinemas will reopen. Three weeks later, places of worship and sports stadiums will be allowed to admit up to 5,000 people and foreign tourists will be allowed to visit the country.

Macron has said the health pass, which can be digital or paper-based, will curb the spread of the virus at events with crowds of more than 1,000 people. It will not be used for everyday venues such as restaurants and cinemas or for access to public transport.

The legislation now advances to the Senate.

By Richard Lough and Elizabeth Pineau