Coronavirus: health emergency in France re-established to February 16, 2021

Published by Caroline J., Rizhlaine F., Manon C. · Photos by Alexandre G. · Published on 4 November 2020 at 19h54 · Updated on 14 November 2020 at 12h24
As France’s government wishes to extend the health emergency to February 16, 2021, MEPs voted for a deadline to December 14, 2020 causing Olivier Véran to be angry. This November 3, 2020 LREM MEPs were not enough at the National Assembly and did not manage to get the executive’s initial choice passed. But at the end of the day, on Wednesday November 4, 2020 MEPs re-establish the end of the health emergency to February 16, 2021. The Constitutional Council has upheld the legal text.

What a sudden U-turn. This Tuesday November 3, 2020, MEPs were gathered at the National Assembly to vote for the extension of the health emergency in France. Not enough in the hemicycle, LREM MEPs have been beaten by the opposition. The latter passed – during a turbulent session – the extension of the health emergency up to December 14, 2020 and not to February 16, 2021 as the government first wished.

A vote tackled by Josiane Corneloup (LR) who explained that “the Holidays are a privileged moment” and “it is necessary to do everything to enable French to meet their families”. For the record, Olivier Véran said Christmas “will be either way” reminding the virus will still be around.

Other elected officials though February 16, 2021 was to far away. “Nobody agrees” with this deadline, Cécile Untermaier (PS) said to the AFP. It is out of the question for Pascal Brindeau (UDI) to “cover” the democratic life for such a long time.

Several LREM MEPs yet reminded why it was critical to extend the health emergency to February 16, including Jean-Pierre Pont who said this measure up to mid-February is “both necessary, fitted and proportionate” to the health situation. As the AFP underlines, the government enjoys several ways of getting back on these litigious votes before fully passing the law as scheduled on Friday November 6.

This Wednesday November 4, 2020, a new turnaround is announced: the National Assembly MEPs ultimately re-established the deadline for the extension of the health emergency to February 16, 2021.

In a release sent to the AFP and the press on Friday November 13, 2020, members of the Constitutional Council go along with the executive. "The Constitutional Council has assessed the legislator has - without being unaware of no constitutional requirement - extended the health emergency to February 16, 2021" they say. During debates at the Assembly and the Senate, nobody was hearing the same refrain.

For the record, the health emergency has been implemented already throughout the country. The head of state and the government passed on October 17, 2020 a measure reinstating this exceptional legal system allowing in case of a health danger (such as the current pandemic) to limit trips or implement mandatory lockdowns. But beyond a month, extending the system must be allowed by the law. Hence the vote for the new text at the National Assembly.

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