The state of health emergency has helped the government fight against the Covid-19 pandemic by increasing governmental powers. This has included giving prefects authority to make decisions to protect people’s health (such as closing beaches) and giving the government the right to introduce new legislation quickly, without having to go through the normal voting procedures.
The state of health emergency in France began on March 24, and was extended two months later, to last until July 10.
New four-month law to be introduced
In place of the state of health emergency in France, the government will propose a new law today (Wednesday 10 June). The law will maintain the government’s right, over a four-month period, to regulate transport, ban certain gatherings and close some public establishments.
A representative from the prime minister’s office said: “The exit from the state of health emergency must be organised rigorously and progressively.”
Referring to the new law, they added: “This arrangement will not authorise a return to strict confinement.”
The new law is intended to “give the prime minister access to some tools” to control the situation, should new outbreaks of the virus occur.
These include “the possibility of regulating access to public transport and their conditions of use (obligatory mask-wearing), the possibility to order the temporary closure and to regulate the opening of certain categories of public establishments” and also to “limit or ban gatherings in public places including meetings of any nature.”
If the health situation in France deteriorated to the extent that more serious restrictions were necessary, the government would need to reimpose a state of health emergency. This could be imposed nationally, or only in certain areas, according to an order from the French cabinet.
Covid-19 “under control” in France
While official figures show that 29,296 people have died in France since the beginning of the Covid-19 epidemic, the situation in France is now judged to be “under control”.
During the peak of the virus in April there were up to 7,000 people in intensive care in France with Covid-19-linked symptoms. This number is now below 1,000.
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