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PARIS (LifeSiteNews) — The spokesman for the French government under President Emmanuel Macron, Gabriel Attal, said that the vaccine passport imposed on France since January “could be lifted mid-March” — just before the presidential election.

Attal made the comment Wednesday evening on French TV channel CNews as he evoked a briefing given by French Health Minister Olivier Véran that same day on France Info, another French channel.

“What Olivier Véran said this morning, is that, yes, from mid-March we could start lifting the vaccine passport [and] start relaxing [COVID] measures. He mentioned the mask [mandates], he mentioned the vaccine passport, he explained that we might have to keep it for certain venues for a few weeks still — he gave the example of nightclubs,” explained Attal.

The vaccine passport has been imposed in France since January 2022, but is only a more restrictive version of the so-called “health pass” which has been in place since August 2021.

Until January 2022, the “health pass” still made it possible for unvaccinated people in France to access restaurants, cafés, museums, sports and leisure venues, provided they showed a negative COVID test. With the new vaccine passport this is no longer the case.

It’s unclear exactly whether both passports would be dropped in March or weather the health pass would still apply. In any case, mask mandates are also expected to be lifted.

Earlier this month, French health minister Olivier Véran already hinted at the fact that the vaccine passport would likely be dropped at some point before July.

Both Véran and Attal argued that the lifting of the passport and other COVID restrictions will be the consequence of the current relief of the pandemic in France with the number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths having dropped drastically for the past few weeks.

But journalists on both France Info and CNews pointed out that a lifting of the vaccine passport and mask mandate in March would coincide with the run-up to the French presidential election in April. They questioned the motives behind lifting some of the most controversial and unpopular COVID restrictions only a few weeks before the election.

“Can you imagine what the opposition is going to say [if] you lift all the restrictions a few weeks before the election?” ask the CNews host to Véran.

“Listen, if we were to maintain the vaccine passport and the mask everywhere at a time when the virus is barely circulating, when ICU beds are empty, and when hospitals are working normally, you would also tell me, ‘Is it not because of the election that you want to maintain a spirit of fear of the virus so that people vote for the current President [Emmanuel Macron],” replied Véran.

“We will always be attacked on that front [i.e the election] but that’s not the question,” he added.

Attal offered a similar reply to CNews host Pascal Praud when the latter asked whether the mask calendar was connected to the election calendar.

“No, it’s not. It’s to do with the calendar of the virus,” replied Véran before arguing that Germany also announced the lifting of most of its COVID restrictions in March. “They’re not doing it because there are elections in France,” argued Attal.