The health pass is on track, Jean Castex steps up on vaccination

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Jul 21, 2021

“Prepare your health pass”: to go to the cinema, to the museum or to sports establishments, the French must now present proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test while the number of contaminations has jumped by 140% in one week .

People line up in front of the Parisian cinema Grand Rex to attend the preview screening of “Kaamelott” on July 20, 2021 – AFP

“In the fourth wave, we are there”, acknowledged Prime Minister Jean Castex on TF1 by launching “a collective challenge” to the population so that “we reach eight million vaccines” administered in the next two weeks.

At the opening of the debates in the Assembly on the bill extending the health pass and establishing a vaccination obligation for caregivers, the Minister of Health Olivier Véran underlined “the seriousness of the situation”, indicating that 21,000 French people had been infected with Covid in the past 24 hours, even more than the day before (18,000).

This is the first time since the beginning of May that the threshold of 20,000 contaminations per day has been exceeded. The Prime Minister stressed for his part that 96% of infected people identified on Tuesday were not vaccinated.

From now on, the government’s objective is to reach 50 million first-time vaccines at the end of August, and no longer 40 million, thanks to the opening of 5 million new appointments “within 15 days”.

Reassure

Speaking at the end of the Defense Council at the Elysee Palace, Jean Castex sought to reassure on the application of the health pass. Since this morning, the latter is required in places of leisure and culture bringing together more than 50 people, against 1,000 previously, but a tolerance of “one week” will be granted to do “pedagogy”, according to the Prime Minister. Then “the time for sanctions” will come.

Managers of cultural establishments – such as cafes and restaurants from the beginning of August – will have to check it at the entrance, but Jean Castex clarified that they would not be responsible for “verifying the identity” of people who present them.

These checks promise to be tedious. How, for example, to manage at the Grand Rex cinema in Paris, “1,200 people when the spectators arrive a quarter of an hour before and it takes 20 to 25 seconds to control each person?” Asks Richard Patry, president. of the National Federation of French Cinemas.

“We are satisfied that we do not have to do identity checks”, reacted Didier Chenet, his counterpart from the union of independent hotel and restaurant workers (GNI). While saying “do not understand why the terraces, which are outside, are subject to the sanitary pass”.

The situation is particularly uncertain for the discotheques – of which a third has just opened -, which are “under strong vigilance”, according to Jean Castex. He also indicated that there would be “no health pass in schools”, but the executive will speed up the vaccination campaign for 12-17 year olds.

Tense debate

The deputies began in a tense atmosphere the examination of the bill on these new measures, with a view to express adoption, with a host of points of order. More than 1,100 amendments were tabled for a meeting which promises to be very long.

The right leaves uncertainty over its vote, wanting to make its voice heard in the face of the majority, without lending itself to a trial in irresponsibility.
Opposition to the text is more frank on the left, but differs between groups, with clear opposition from LFI. The RN will also vote against.

Yaël Braun-Pivet, president of the law commission, wanted “to find the balance between the attack on the freedom to come and go and the health protection of our citizens”. After the demonstrations on Saturday, Jean Castex also sent a message of firmness towards those who “come to acts of violence” by protesting against the vaccination. “We will be intractable,” he promised, targeting those who “allude to the yellow star or the Holocaust, attack parliamentary offices, set fire to vaccination centers”.

In terms of health, the impact of the fourth wave on the hospital system is still “uncertain”, recognized Olivier Véran, especially since the outbreak of contaminations affects mainly young people for the moment. But “we already have an increase for 10 consecutive days in the number of hospital admissions” for Covid, he warned.

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