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France looks to extend state of health emergency to June 1

The emergency state allows for stricter measures to be brought in to fight Covid-19, such as lockdowns and curfews 

21 January 2021
By Connexion journalist

The French Assemblée Nationale has ruled in favour of extending the country’s state of health emergency until June 1. 

A state of health emergency allows the government to impose tougher restrictions on public freedom as a means to fight Covid-19. It has been in place since late October and is currently set to expire on February 16. 

The bill to extend it will now be sent to the Senate for a first reading on January 27 with a view to adopting it before the current state of emergency expires. 

It was supported in the Assemblée Nationale by 113 MPs, with 43 voting against and four abstaining. 

While the country is under a state of health emergency, the government can introduce measures such as curfews, travel restrictions and lockdowns, both local and national. 

Several top doctors and epidemiologists in France have said that they believe a third lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic is inevitable. 

Professor Jean-Daniel Lelièvre, head of infectious diseases at Henri-Mondor Hospital in Créteil and a vaccine expert for the Haute Autorité de Santé, said it is unavoidable but did not know what form it would take.

“Will it be regional, national? Do we have to do it all over the country? We will have to see with the epidemiologists as we go along,” he told radio network France Inter on Sunday, January 17.

He said that he thought it was unlikely to be introduced before the half-term February holidays.

Meanwhile Renaud Piarroux, a researcher and epidemiologist at the Pierre Louis Institute, has called for the government to introduce another lockdown immediately. 

“I say to the government, do it now, do it for a shorter time, but do it now,” he told FranceInfo this morning (January 21). 

“We are not talking about a decrease or stabilisation, but an increase in the number of [Covid] cases.”

A new, more contagious variant of Covid-19 that was first identified in the UK is predicted to become “dominant” in France between the end of February and the middle of March, health research experts have found through a new genetic study.

New Covid UK variant ‘dominant’ in France by March

The government's spokesperson Gabriel Attal ruled out any new measures being introduced this week. This followed yesterday's Conseil de Défense, a meeting where top ministers, including President Emmanuel Macron, discuss coronavirus-related matters. 

Read more:

Europe debates Covid health passports for travellers

Leading French experts advise vitamin D to counter Covid-19

Covid France: Some masks less effective against UK variant

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