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Covid vaccine passports debate premature, say French MPs

Government policy is to wait until the majority of people in France are vaccinated before discussing the idea

It is too early to discuss a possible future 'Covid-19 vaccine passport' the government has said - but behind the scenes the prospect is starting to be taken seriously as more people are vaccinated, according to reports.

The Secretary of State for Tourism, Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, insisted any discussion about an official document indicating its holder has been vaccinated against Covid-19 was 'premature' during an online discussion on the revival of tourism in the PACA region of France because fewer than 2.5million people have received their first dose of the vaccine and are awaiting their second.

As of February 17, some 923,289 had received two doses.

"The idea of ​​restricting the flows to people who are only vaccinated is a debate that seems premature to us," Mr Lemoyne said. "The fact of conditioning [travel] to the fact of being vaccinated is an ethical subject and not a small matter."

Government policy appears to be to wait until the majority of French people are vaccinated. "While people are waiting to be vaccinated, it would be strange to bring the issue of the vaccination passport into the debate," a member of the government told BFMTV.

However, the establishment of a vaccination passport for people who have to travel is under consideration. The government is already talking to various European countries. "We are going to work together on this question," the Secretary of State for European Affairs, Clément Beaune, said at the end of January.

"The vaccination passport will also be a point for discussion at the meeting of European affairs ministers and the European Council next week. These should not be isolated initiatives," he continued.

Meanwhile, consideration in France of a "green passport" intended to allow entry to cultural places, sports halls or restaurants, as already decided in Israel, presents its own problems.

"I am in favour of anything that allows a return to normal life", one unnamed minister told BFMTV, before citing concerns over "problems of feasibility", and calling for respect for "the debates on public freedoms, which are not negligible".

Some civil liberties groups have already condemned the idea as 'an attack on individual freedoms'.

There are also doubts because of ongoing scientific uncertainty over the length of time a vaccine is effective and whether regular booster shots may be needed.

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