Lockdowns, curfew, facemask-wearing, vaccine and health passes, vaccines, remote working, limited movements... In March 2020, a then unknown virus started to hit the world, urging leaders to make extreme measures to limit the spread of the disease. In France, the health emergency was called on March 24, 2020, involving a series of exceptional measures.
Most of these restrictions are no longer into effect. The French government now says we have to live with the virus. Health emergency officially comes to a close: the measure is to end on July 31, 2022, over two years after the pandemic broke out.
What are the consequences in France? The parliament still debates about a bill, "now temporarily a watch and health security system in terms of fight against Covid-19". Deputies have to agree on the health schemes that can be kept past July 31, to try and keep fighting against the virus and against upcoming diseases likely to broke out.
"Starting from August 1, the government can no longer make coercive measures allowed by the health emegency exit regime in the event of a especially strong epidemic burst" tells MEP Sacha Houlié to Le Monde. The vaccine pass, gauges, compulsory facemask-wearing could then definitively disappear if not involved in the bill. Now, only two measures have been approved by the hemicycle: past July 31, the State can still keep the data system and epidemic watch system and can re-establish travel controls "from and to" mainland France and overseas territories until January 31, 2023.
The government is to lose a lot of constraining tools, settled so far to fight against the virus. Yet, for now, the health emergency is not over. Before the end of the month, the government can approve several decrees to reactivate compulsory facemask-wearing or travel restrictions.
Another consequence of the end of health emergnecy: the Scientific Committee will be dissolved. The authority delivered their last report, a document gathering concludions, pressure points to keep an eye on and different recommendations for the months and years to come. The Scientific Committee points out mental health issues, long Covid, the hospital's fatigue and the health situation in the most precarious areas. The Committee is to be replaced by a "watch and health risk anticipation committee" from early August.
Will France never be again in health emergency? This status is not deleted: it can come into effect again. But to do so, the government must approve a law the parliament must approve too.