Coronavirus: the French Senate passes a measure to reopen bars and nightclubs

Published by Alexandre G. · Published on 16 October 2020 at 17h42
In the night from Tuesday October 13 to Wednesday 14, 2020, Senators voted for a measure against the bill aiming at extending the transitional arrangement set at the end of the health emergency allowing the executive to constrain private and public liberties as part of the fight against the Covid-19 epidemic for five months. The Senate agrees wholeheartedly with bars and nightclubs and wishes to limit the closure of establishments receiving public. An amendment that still has to be approved by MEPs, mostly from LREM party.

We no longer wish let you implement a permanent system of exceptional powers”. This is how senator Philippe Bas (LR) – recorder of the measure aiming at preventing the Prime Minister from closing places receiving the public – sums up the power struggle opposing the high chamber of the French Parliament and the executive in the fight against the Covid-19 epidemic.

Therefore, the measure voted by his colleagues in the night from Tuesday October 13 to Wednesday October 14, 2020 goes against the government’s will. The government’s wish relies on the extension of the transitional arrangement set at the end of the health emergency for five months, until April 1st, then. The Senate rater limits the status to January 31 for a 3-month period. An order giving a whole bunch of exceptional powers to the head of the government such as the closure of bars, restaurants, nightclubs and other places receiving the public; as well as the limitation of the right to protest, the creation of health digital files, and the regulation of the traffic of citizens.

Even though the outcome of the vote of the measure can be surprising, senators explain their decisions with the uncertainties around the immoderate look of the restrictions to come. According for EELV senator in Paris, Esther Benbassa, “the excessive rights given to the Prime Minister, the prefects and administrations have lasted too long”, Public Sénat reports. A position shared by Île-de-France socialist senator Marie-Pierre de la Gontrie who repeats “no to closure, yes to regulation”. Same call for the hemicycle’s right wing with LR senator Serge Babary who advocates the reopening of nightclubs as bars or restaurants, or from Michel Savin who is for the reopening of gyms “for people with a medical prescription”.

Tweet reads: “’We shall tolerate restrictions to our liberties to the extent needed for preventing contaminations’. The Senate is examining a bill aiming at extended the transitional arrangement at the end of the health emergency. Reactions from Bas Philippe and JP Sueur”.

What caused the anger of health minister Olivier Véran. Without hiding his exasperation, the doctor noticed the measure was fit despite “the extremely unstable health situation”, as if he reminded a reality hard to accept. He also made the most of it to speak in the government’s name: “(the executive) duly records the Senate’s vote that – if it was to be confirmed at the end of the parliamentary shuttling – will imply the reopening of all places receiving the public”.

Furthermore, if the Health minister speaks of the parliamentary shuttling it is to remind that for now the vote for the measure for the reopening of bars and nightclubs is only symbolical. The recorder of the amendment then asked for another deliberation to the Senate, as the shuttling also plans a re-reading and a vote by the other parliamentary chamber, the National Assembly. Mostly LREM as we know. A peasant revolt from the Senate that would be nothing but flogging a dead horse? It will be up to them to decide, once again. Then to MEPs to definitely make the call.

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