The French Senate approved on Thursday the government's latest measures to tackle the COVID-19 virus, including a vaccine pass, which has encountered some opposition among the public after President Emmanuel Macron's harsh criticism of the unvaccinated.
Lawmakers late Wednesday gave the green light for rules that mean unvaccinated people will soon be unable to access restaurants and cultural facilities and will be barred from taking long-distance trains and flights. So far they have been able to show a negative COVID-19 test.
The Senate backed the COVID-19 measures and legislation for a COVID-19 vaccine pass by 249 in favor, versus 63 against. The legislation had already been approved earlier this month by France's lower house of parliament.
Macron and members of his ruling La Republique En Marche party have stepped up their campaign this year against those not vaccinated against COVID-19, as France battles a fifth wave of the virus. Macron told Le Parisien paper this month that he wanted to "piss off" unvaccinated people by making their lives so complicated they would end up getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Senate decided the stricter rules will only apply as long as there are more than 10,000 coronavirus patients in French hospitals. There are currently around 24,000 patients.
In future, those who have contracted and recovered from COVID-19 will be eligible for a coronavirus passport that allows unrestricted access to facilities and events. Proof of vaccination will also only apply from the age of 18.
Long-distance travel will still be permitted for exceptional reasons with a test and without vaccination. Those who have made a vaccination appointment will also temporarily be allowed access with a test.
The Senate rejected implementing tougher penalties and rules that oblige restaurants to check guests' identification, saying such checks are the responsibility of the police only.
On Wednesday, France registered 361,719 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, and a further 246 COVID-19 deaths in hospitals. French teachers will also walk off the job en masse on Thursday over what they say is a government failure to adopt a coherent policy for schools to manage the COVID-19 pandemic, or properly protect pupils and staff against infection.