The health pass, soon essential sesame? Since June 9, this deconfinement tool has been limited to very specific situations, outside of daily activities. But faced with the resurgence of contaminations due to Covid-19, more than 40% of which are linked to the Delta variant, and the threat of a fourth wave, the government is considering how to broaden its scope.
Since July 1, parliamentarians have been invited by the Prime Minister to study all the possibilities of generalizing the health pass. This in view of the exceptional Defense Sanitary Council which will be chaired by the Head of State, Monday, July 12. However, such an extension of the health pass raises many practical and ethical questions.
1What activities of daily living could be affected?
When setting up the pass, the President of the Republic had promised that no, it would not be requested at the entrance of shops, restaurants, cinemas or theaters. So far, the famous QR code is only needed for people aged 11 or over who want to attend a number of festive, cultural and sporting events involving at least 1000 people.
The situation is likely to change. The extension of the health pass could not only make it possible to better control the circulation of the virus, but also to encourage the French to be vaccinated. The chairman of the Vaccine Strategy Orientation Council, Alain Fischer, thus declared himself in favor of an extension of its scope. “The idea that you could use your health pass not only to go to the stadium, but also to go to the cinema, to the theater, to the restaurant would not shock me”, he said in an interview with World (subscribers only article).
Moreover, the deployment of the health pass in restaurants “is in discussion with Bercy”, according to the president of the National Group of Independents of the Hotel and Restaurant Industry. Asked about franceinfo on Wednesday, Didier Chenet assured that “If this health pass is to be an alternative to a possible closure of our establishments, or even the reinstallation of gauges, of course we will give our agreement”. Lowering of the threshold of 1,000 people, extension of the categories of establishments concerned … For the moment, no hypothesis is favored and no implementation date has been put forward.
2Will the use of the pass be extended over time?
This track could be discussed at the next Health Defense Council. Initially, the health pass deployed since June 9 was to be used only during the summer. Its use is also authorized by law until September 30. To postpone this date, the government will therefore have to go through a vote in Parliament during the summer.
In the meantime, the question arises of the start of the school year and of a possible obligation for the pupils to present this pass when they return to class. This hypothesis is currently ruled out by the Chairman of the Steering Committee for the vaccination strategy. According to Alain Fischer, “You cannot reject a child on the grounds that he is not vaccinated. It comes under the elementary right to education and the compulsory minimum of common life”, he says, always at World.
3What will happen to trips on French territory?
In the middle of summer, the health pass is currently required to travel outside the borders. Since July 1, it has even become European, as part of a harmonization agreement between the member states, in order to facilitate travel within the European Union thanks to the European health certificate.
However, it should not become mandatory to travel by train on the French rail network during your vacation. The Minister for Transport, Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, declared, during a visit to the Gare de Lyon (Paris) on July 2, that “we have a system which works well and which is intended to be perpetuated at least all summer”. “For the moment we did not wish to extend the sanitary pass, in particular to TGV”, he clarified.
4 Why is this implementation likely to pose practical problems?
As for the discotheques which are due to reopen on July 9 after more than sixteen months of closure, the need for this health pass should not be a brake according to Thierry Fontaine, president of Umih-Nuit France. “I think it will work. We can see that young people are being massively vaccinated”, he analyzed with franceinfo. However, a large number of nightclubs have already chosen to remain closed for the summer, deeming the restrictions too restrictive.
If it were to be extended to restaurants, bars or other businesses, its application might not be easy. “It will remain to be seen the modalities of application because our clientele is not made up only of adults, we also have children”, underlines Didier Chenet, of the National Group of Independent Hotel and Restaurant Industry.
“We have been closed for a very long time, I believe that this measure is still a slowdown in our turnover, our customers, our resource”, says Shirley Deltour, restaurateur, at the microphone of France 2. So how can we ensure that restaurateurs and customers play the game? The question arises, especially since the reminder book, supposed to be set up in bars and restaurants in order to facilitate the tracing of chains of contamination, has turned on the flop, the rule being very little applied in the field.
5Why is there no unanimous support for the extension of the health pass?
As when it was put in place, any expansion of the health pass must be validated by a new law. The debate is far from settled. If the majority groups and the Socialists are rather favorable, the LR group in the National Assembly has judged such an extension “inopportune” in a letter addressed to Jean Castex.
The question also crosses the usual political divisions. “There are senators like me who are very keen on the preservation of public freedoms and others who are more pragmatic and who think that this may be the price to pay”, thus summarizes the centrist senator Loïc Hervé at Public Senate.
Today, the exercise of fundamental freedoms such as demonstrating, meeting or exercising worship are not subject to the presentation of the health pass. Declaring himself to be an ardent defender of public freedoms, Loïc Hervé says he will oppose “all [ses] forces” generalization of the health pass. “I don’t want people to get into the habit of justifying their state of health for acts of everyday life (…) In France, we don’t have to justify their identity in the street. so I don’t want to justify my state of health to go to the restaurant, the theater or the supermarket “, he justifies.
The question of a breach of equality between people who have been vaccinated and those who are not is likely to arise again. If the health pass were to be extended, the unvaccinated could only access the public places concerned by presenting a negative test of less than 48 hours or a certificate of recovery after contamination with Covid-19. A significant constraint for the acts of daily life.