The government will be able to continue to put in place restrictions to deal with the second wave of coronavirus. In an often tense atmosphere, the National Assembly voted on Saturday to extend the state of health emergency until February 16. The bill, voted by 71 votes against 35 at first reading, is expected in the Senate on Wednesday and should be definitively adopted in early November.
Compared to last spring, the opposition, left and right, has raised the tone in the hemicycle to worry about the “putting in brackets of public freedoms” by this “atomic weapon” of the state of emergency. This has been reinstated by decree for a week, but a bill is necessary to extend it beyond a month. However, it may be lifted in advance in the event of an improvement in the situation.
A gloomy short term
But this is not on the agenda because the outlook is bleak. The toll will “grow heavier in the coming days and weeks, whatever we do”, because of the dynamics of the epidemic, said Minister of Health Olivier Véran. He therefore wanted “national union”, without obtaining it in the hemicycle.
Article 4, which authorizes the government to use a series of orders in many areas, crystallized the discussions at the end of the day. “It’s a total blank check to the executive,” said UDI Pascal Brindeau, while François Ruffin (LFI) was indignant at a “dormant democracy”, fearing a risk of “rupture” in “Acceptance of measures”. After a series of arrests, the Minister for Autonomy, Brigitte Bourguignon, ended up replying: “What do you think, that all of us as human beings do not want to to go to the Christmas market, to celebrate Christmas with the family, to have restaurants and cafes open? That we do this for fun? Finally ! “.
LR motion failed
Opposed to a “state of emergency which trivializes infringements of freedoms”, the LR group unsuccessfully defended a motion for the prior rejection of the bill. Is the objective “generalized containment”? “Say it! We must not infantilize the national representation and even less our fellow citizens ”, claimed Philippe Gosselin (LR).
According to rapporteur Jean-Pierre Pont (LREM), the bill reflects the “test, trace, isolate” strategy, with the extension until April 1 of digital systems for collecting test results and contact persons. It also largely empowers the government to sign ordinances in the areas of labor law, the functioning of administrations and even communities, as last spring. After February 16, the bill still provides for possible restrictions until April 1, via a transitional regime. The period includes regional and departmental elections, if they are not postponed. A sensible subject.