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End of COVID Restrictions in France by Hélène de Lauzun

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End of COVID Restrictions in France

The exceptional regime put in place to combat the COVID-19 pandemic was officially supposed to end in France on July 31, 2022. A few days before the deadline, members of parliament voted on a new law that lifts the main restrictions that had previously been in force on French territory.

The bill was first examined by the National Assembly and then by the Senate, but a constructive dialogue was established between the two chambers, which reached a compromise text approved by both assemblies. The vote was taken by 184 votes to 149. The Socialist Party and Les Républicains groups announced that they would vote in favour with the majority, while the Rassemblement National, La France Insoumise, Communist, and Independent groups voted against. The ecologists chose to abstain.

The law explicitly mentions the repeal of the most restrictive measures in terms of public freedom put in place at the height of the pandemic. Containment, curfews, and the use of the health pass are now a thing of the past. The scientific council, responsible for guiding the government’s health policy, is dissolved. 

A combination of votes from the RN, the Républicains, and the Left had allowed the National Assembly to repeal the health control at the borders during the first reading of the bill. However, the provision was reinstated by the Senate, and finally appears in the final version of the law, albeit in the form of a simple negative test and not a health pass, and only in the event of the appearance of a new variant of COVID identified as particularly dangerous. 

One issue that remains unresolved and is still the subject of fierce debate is the reinstatement of suspended non-vaccinated nurses and care assistants. At present, their reinstatement has still not been decided, even if the door is no longer completely closed: it is subject to medical advice, and could be considered when the vaccination obligation is no longer medically justified. The High Authority for Health has taken the lead and affirmed, even before the parliamentary debates ended on Friday, July 22nd, that reinstatement was absolutely out of the question for the moment. 

The “path to reintegration” put forward by the senators therefore remains very hypothetical for these thousands of carers, with no timetable in sight. The absence of a clear perspective explains the opposition vote of the RN and LFI deputies, who are very keen to defend the cause of non-vaccinated caregivers. The question of compensation for the long months they had to face without pay was not addressed. 

The text was definitively validated by the Senate on Tuesday, July 26th.

Hélène de Lauzun studied at the École Normale Supérieure de Paris. She taught French literature and civilization at Harvard and received a Ph.D. in History from the Sorbonne. She is the author of Histoire de l’Autriche (Perrin, 2021).

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