French MPs on Thursday morning approved a bill to transform the COVID-19 health pass into a vaccine pass.
The bill was adopted at 5:25 am with 214 votes in favour, 93 against, and 27 abstentions.
It will proceed to the Senate early next week and is expected to come into force in the second half of the month.
It will then be necessary for people over 12 to prove their vaccination status in order to access leisure activities, restaurants and bars, fairs or inter-regional public transport. A negative test will no longer be sufficient, except for access to health facilities and services.
Among their amendments, MEPs postponed the need for a vaccine pass for children aged 12 to 16 for school outings and extracurricular activities.
The government had hoped that the law would come into force by 15 January at the latest but was rebuked on Tuesday — on the first day of debate over the bill — when opposition lawmakers delayed its approval by refusing to continue examining its content overnight.
Prime Minister Jean Castex asked parliamentarians on Wednesday to speed up the process after the blockage caused by President Emmanuel Macron.
In an interview released on Tuesday in Le Parisien newspaper, Macron said that “the unvaccinated, I really want to piss them off”, adding that the government “will continue to do so, to the bitter end.”
“When my freedom comes to threaten that of others, I become irresponsible. An irresponsible person is no longer a citizen,” he added.
Asked to explain himself, Castex first confirmed before the Senate his desire to put pressure on the non-vaccinated. “Who is in contempt of the nation? (…) Who is leading the carers in our emergencies to make dramatic ethical choices? Well, it’s a tiny minority,” he said.
Meanwhile, the country reported a new record high of 332,252 new COVID-19 on Wednesday while the number of hospitalised patients continued to rise, especially in critical care units.
According to Health Minister Olivier Véran, some “5% of hospitalised patients” have fake health passes. The bill increases penalties for fraud.