PARIS

Unvaccinated healthcare workers in France may lose their jobs and salaries if they fail to get the jab by mid-September, under the provisions of a bill passed by the lower house of the parliament.

After hours of heated debates, the national assembly on early Friday morning adopted the bill relating to the management of the health crisis, including provisions of compulsory vaccination for health personnel, mandatory isolation for positive COVID-19 patients, and extension of health pass restrictions.

The bill tabled by the government to combat the effects of the pandemic in view of the rising circulation of the Delta variant was adopted by the National Assembly with 117 votes in favor and 86 against it, just before 6 a.m. It will be introduced in the upper house of the Senate on Friday for final adoption.

The bill comprising announcements on new health measures and restrictions made by President Emmanuel Macron on July 12 has been tabled in the parliament for the approval of elected representatives before it is enforced in public. Part of the measures of the health pass which requires people to provide proof of vaccination or recent results of negative COVID-19 test for entry in cultural and public places of leisure with a large gathering, have come into effect from this Wednesday.

The bill primarily extends the health crisis management regime until Dec. 31, which means the provisions of the bill will be applicable till the end of the year unless they are further extended.

It includes provisions for compulsory vaccines for health personnel and employees of medico-social sectors by Sept. 15 and imposes penalties for non-compliance including suspension from duty or non-payment of salary. A significant number of healthcare workers have refused vaccination citing skepticism. Authorities are worried that with the highly contagious Delta variant, the elderly and medically fragile population can face risks from unvaccinated staff workers.

There will also be compulsory 10-day isolation for people that tested positive for COVID-19 who will be subjected to monitoring.

Imposition of the health pass will be effective from Aug. 30 to department stores, shopping centers, trade fairs, seminars, catering activities like restaurants and cafes, and long-distance public transport activities to the public and employees of these establishments and services. And in the case of minors, it will be implemented for those over the age of 12 from Sept. 30.

The owners, operators, and professionals of these establishments, and services will be responsible for checking the implementation of the health pass. Repeat violators of the rules on more than three occasions in a 30-day period will be subjected to penalties of €9,000 and up to one year imprisonment.

The bill saw heated debates and discussions from lawmakers, particularly on the application of the health pass with the potential for hindering daily life activities. Responding to the need for its imposition in eating places and outdoor terraces of cafes, Health Minister Olivier Veran cited the latest study attested to increased contagiousness of the viral load due to which one can be infected even on the outdoor terrace of a cafe. “Without the health pass we run the risk of closing the terraces,” he said.

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