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France approves new measures to fight the Covid-19 'catastrophe' as it prepares to ease lockdown

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French soldiers patrol next to the Eiffel Tower on May 8, 2020 in Paris, as part of the celebrations for the anniversary of the Allied forces victory in Europe in WW2
French soldiers patrol next to the Eiffel Tower on May 8, 2020 in Paris, as part of the celebrations for the anniversary of the Allied forces victory in Europe in WW2   -   Copyright  Thomas SAMSON / AFP
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France has extended its state of "health emergency" until July 10 included.

The health emergency was first declared on March 22 and was set to remain in place for two months.

However, this does not change the date set for the easing of the confinement measures - May 11.

Tomorrow, shops in France will reopen and people will be allowed out of their homes without having to carry a self-certification.

But the bill approved yesterday evening gives French authorities new powers to halt and manage what the government called the Covid-19 "catastrophe".

These are the main points.

Criminal charges

One of the most important points of the bill is about criminal charges for public officers and businesses over contagions that may occur after lockdown is eased.

Initially, it caused controversies and disagreements over the extent of responsibility they would have to prevent the virus spread.

The approved bill takes into account - when it comes to possible criminal charges - the effective tools and means local councils and businesses have to prevent contagions, as well as the "nature" of their "missions or functions".

Quarantine and isolation

People arriving in any French territory - mainland and overseas - from outside the EU, the Schengen Area and the UK, who have been in "infection zones" (lister by the Health Ministry), will be subjected to quarantine, for an "initial period" of 14 days, maximum. The decision can be appealed in court.

The bill also states that any victim of domestic abuse won't be quarantined at the same address of the perpetrator.

Tracking infections

The bill allows the creation of an information system "intended to identify infected persons" and "to collect information" on the persons that have been in contact with them, to halt the virus spread.

This system allows personal health data to be processed and collected "without consent, if necessary".

Agents of the social security system will be providing lists of infected people.

information will be kept for up to three months.

Checks on public transports

As face-masks become compulsory on public transport from May 11, public officers - including national rail service (SNCF) and Paris transport (RATP) officers - will be able to sanction those who do not comply.

Other measures

The bill also lists certain measures that the Prime Minister can take by decree, such as:

  • Regulating or prohibiting the movement of people and vehicles, and regulating access to means of transport as well as the conditions of their use.
  • Ordering the provisional closure and regulating the opening of public spaces.
  • Ordering "the requisition" of "persons and all goods and services necessary" to the fight to the health emergency.