The French government is preparing for a possible new wave of corona infections this winter.

On Thursday night, the National Assembly approved the extension of the so-called health passport until July 31, 2022 with a slim majority.

The corresponding article of the law (Article 2) was adopted with a majority of only one vote (74 votes to 73 against).

Michaela Wiegel

Political correspondent based in Paris.

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Unusually united, the opposition parties rebelled from left and right against the permanent state of health emergency. Before that, the French civil rights representative Claire Hédon had also said that there should be no “hidden compulsory vaccination”.

The entire bill, which also includes an extended health emergency until the end of July 2022, almost failed due to resistance from the opposition. It was adopted with a majority of 135 votes and 125 against. Health Minister Olivier Véran justified the legislative proposal by saying that France should not be too careless with the virus too soon. The extension does not mean that the health passport has to be presented by next summer. The law, however, allows a very quick response to a worsening pandemic situation in the next few months.

The health passport, which corresponds to proof of vaccination or recovery or a negative test result, must be presented in restaurants and cafés, cinemas, theaters and other cultural institutions.

It is also mandatory for long-distance travel by train, bus and plane as well as for major sporting events.

Originally it was only supposed to remain in force until November 15th.

Resistance to the extension rose up to the ranks of the ruling party La République en marche.

"The health pass is a dangerous instrument and restricts freedoms," said LREM MP Pacome Rupin.

“The government is considering introducing a mandatory third dose of vaccine.

The 36-year-old MP asked.

The protest does not die down

Presidential candidate Marine Le Pen complained in the National Assembly about the mendacity of the government's arguments.

If the vaccination is effective, the health passport can no longer be justified, she said.

In France, 86 percent of those over the age of 12 are fully vaccinated.

Le Pen criticized that the extended health passport equates to a compulsory vaccination "which Macron does not dare to claim".

The left party La France insoumise also voted against the bill.

The crisis management of the pandemic could no longer be controlled by parliament until next summer, criticized LFI MP Eric Coquerel.

The law is tantamount to a self-empowerment of the executive.

This is particularly worrying as President Emmanuel Macron will soon declare himself a candidate for president.

“Our life is made up of risks. Do we therefore have to give up our democratic life and freedoms? My answer is no, ”said the general secretary of the right-wing party Les Républicains, Aurélien Pradié.

The Senate will deliberate on the draft law from October 28th.

In the second chamber of parliament, civil rights have a majority.

Senate President Gérard Larcher (LR) has already announced that there will be “no blank check” from the Senate for the government by next summer.

By February at the latest, Parliament would have to deal with the health passport again.

So far, the government has refused to accept any proposal to link the use of the health passport to incidence criteria or to the occupancy rate of the hospitals.

The protest against the health passport is not ebbing.

Last Saturday, around 40,000 French took to the streets across the country.

Keywords: france, health passport, law, health pass, trains, cinemas, theaters, buses, cafes, rules, bill, government, corona, extension, minister of health