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French senators call for immediate end to vaccine pass in open letter

The 20 senators claim that its use is a ‘political measure hidden behind a health pretext’ and say ‘it is urgent to give freedom back to the French public’

Health pass QR code on a smartphone screen

The letter claims that the vaccine pass “makes no sense…has never been necessary” and is only a “political strategy” Pic: Sylv1rob1 / Shutterstock

Twenty French senators have called for the immediate suspension of the vaccine pass in France, claiming that removing it in March or April would be “unacceptable”.

In an open letter published in Le Figaro, the senators claimed that there is “no justifiable use” for the vaccine pass except as a “political strategy”.

It read: “After having put the French under surveillance, the government wants to be the one to ‘free them’, a few weeks before the first round of the presidential election. It’s a big trick.”

Read more: Vaccine pass could end by April, says France's Covid strategy head 

The letter also claims that “the vaccine pass makes no sense” and “has never been necessary”.

It said: “If the government wanted to stop the virus from spreading, a negative test would have been much more effective than proof of vaccination, because neither two nor three nor four doses stop people from getting infected or being contagious.

“The vaccine pass is even counterproductive, because it gives the impression of being protected, and encourages people to abandon barrier gestures…Common sense has been replaced by political strategy, to the detriment of French freedoms,” it added.

‘Give freedom back to the public’

The letter also states that the government should have focused on strengthening hospital resources rather than on vaccination. It also stresses what it calls the “damaging effects” of mask-wearing on children’s ability to learn languages and interact with others. 

It concluded: “It is therefore urgent to give freedom back to the French public, before the country falls back into disorder.”

The senators conceded that “we must certainly remain vigilant with regard to people at risk”, but that “the vast majority of French people can no longer stand all these deprivations of freedom, while they continue to see the inconsistencies in the health management of the pandemic on a daily basis”.

The letter called on the government to stop “pissing off the French” with “political measures hidden behind health pretexts”. 

It used the phrase “emmerder les Francais”, in deliberate reference to President Emmanuel Macron’s statement from January that he wanted to “emmerder (piss off)” non-vaccinated people with anti-Covid rules.

Read more: Emmanuel Macron admits he wants to 'piss off' the non-vaccinated

The letter concluded by saying that as the “temple of public freedom”, “the Senate…has a duty to make its voice heard”.

It said: “We therefore demand the immediate lifting of the vaccine pass [and connected health rules], as more and more countries are doing, such as Denmark and the United Kingdom.”

Signatories include Étienne Blanc, Senator of Rhône; Christine Bonfanti-Dossat, Senator of Lot-et-Garonne and Sylviane Noël, Senator of Haute-Savoie.

The full text can be read here (in French).

Vaccine pass rule change

The letter comes as the rules surrounding the vaccine pass are set to change tomorrow (February 15). From this day, the deadline for fully vaccinated people needing to receive a booster dose in order to retain their pass will shorten from seven months after the second dose to four.

If you have already had your booster, your pass will continue to work.

Read more: Recap: How to avoid losing your French vaccine pass on February 15  

Current Covid situation in France

The average number of daily cases over the past week has now dropped in France to 135,779, the first time that numbers have dropped below 150,000 on average in 2022.

This represents a general drop in cases since a peak in January.

Two weeks ago, the average number of cases being recorded each day was 306,076.

Hospitalisation levels are also falling – although hospitals still remain under pressure – with the latest figures from Santé publique France (February 9) showing that there were 13,836 hospitalisations over the past seven days, and 1,648 admissions to intensive care.

Read more: France Covid: ‘The worst is behind us,’ says health minister

Related articles

Why Emmanuel Macron has often talked about 'pissing people off'

100,000 protest across France against plans for vaccine pass 

Who are France’s five million unvaccinated - and what are the reasons?

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