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PM to unveil deconfinement plan for France today

Details of the French government’s plans for relaxation of the Covid-19 confinement rules from May 11 will be unveiled by the prime minister at 15:00 today.

Edouard Philippe will be speaking in the National Assembly and is expected to clarify many issues such as access to masks, whether mask-wearing will become obligatory in certain situations such as on public transport or at work, testing and isolation strategies and rules for schools and shops and other businesses.

The speech is live on the internet at this link

It will be followed by around two and a half hours of debate by MPs before a vote is taken. 

The proceedings are based on article 51 of the Constitution, which allows the government to make a declaration before parliament, leading to a debate and then – if it chooses – a non-binding vote.

Controversially, plans to introduce a contact tracing phone application that will flag up if you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 will be combined with the other points today. 

It was previously to have been subject to a separate debate and vote, originally scheduled for today and tomorrow.

Opposition MPs have criticised the government’s handling of the arrangements, including Jean-Luc Mélenchon of La France Insoumise (Left), who described the short time for analysis of the plan as “yet another brutality”.

A number of ‘rebel’ MPs from the government’s La République en Marche party also expressed concerns, writing in an open letter than they “regret that our assembly is being reduced to having a consultative opinion” with regard to deconfinement and contact tracing.

Les Républicains MP Damien Abad meanwhile said there should be an extra day given for an in-depth discussion of the ideas by a committee of MPs, and for consultation of colleagues who cannot be present at the debate. He said the tracking app should have a separate vote.

Even so, today’s proceedings were agreed on yesterday by the ‘presidents of the Assembly’, including the heads of the political groups and committees in Parliament, the minister of parliamentary relations and the National Assembly president.

The assembly's president, Richard Ferrand, has also stated that today’s proceedings are expected to be followed by a bill on which MPs will be able to vote again with regard to elements that need to be put into law.

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