Thu. Jan 20th, 2022

The proposed law would make it compulsory for people over the age of 12 to submit a valid COVID vaccination certificate to enter leisure venues such as pubs and restaurants.

French lawmakers have begun discussing a draft bill aimed at replacing France’s COVID health card with a vaccine card, as some lawmakers in the ruling party have said they will not succumb to death threats over the legislation.

The new law, if passed, would make it mandatory for people over 12 to show a valid vaccination certificate to enter leisure venues such as restaurants and bars.

Legislators will vote on the draft law later Monday before it goes to the Senate.

France has vaccinated 77 percent of its population and is chasing booster shots to combat the highly transmissible Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

People attend a demonstration called by the French political party ‘Les Patriotes’ against COVID-19 vaccine pass in Paris, France, 3 January 2022. The banner reads’ No. Stop propaganda ‘ [Sarah Meyssonnier/Reuters]

But more than four million adults remain unvaccinated, including more than one million people over the age of 65.

And for them, public life will be severely curtailed as the government chases out vaccine passes.

Health Minister Oliver Veran, who called the “selfishness” of those who oppose immunizations, said: “The purpose of this law is not to restrict freedoms … it is to save lives.”

“They swing higher principles, they say they fight for freedom, but their struggle is small and know nothing of the elementary principles that govern how we live together, as a society, even in these difficult times,” Veran said.

With Monday’s debate continuing through the night, left-wing lawmaker Jean-Luc Melenchon said the proposed law would establish a “totalitarian, authoritarian society”.

Addressing the pandemic, “you were wrong about everything,” he told the government.

“We will not concede”

Meanwhile, lawmakers from France’s ruling party said on Monday they would not be forced by death threats received by dozens of politicians over the bill.

“We will not concede,” Yael Braun-Pivet, of the ruling La Republique and Marche (LREM) party, told parliament, referring to death threats she said had received politicians of all kinds. “It is our democracy that is at stake.”

Last week, the garage of a ruling party lawmaker was set on fire, with graffiti by suspected anti-vaccination protesters scribbling on an adjoining wall.

France has so far recorded more than 10.2 million cases and nearly 124,000 deaths [File: Julien De Rosa/AFP]

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said police would step up protection for lawmakers after several, including LREM’s Barbara Bessot Ballot, were released with death threats.

She said 52 lawmakers had received messages threatening to kill them because they “attacked our freedom”, adding on Twitter: “Those death threats are unacceptable.”

France saw large crowds rally against the health pass when it was introduced in mid-2021, but attendance at weekend rallies has declined as vaccine acceptance has increased.

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