France is prepared to lift the special government powers granted to cope with the coronavirus pandemic on July 10 but will continue to restrict gatherings and freedom of movement for the next four months, the prime minister’s office said.
In March, as the coronavirus outbreak spread across the globe, France implemented “state of health emergency” legislation, extending the government’s power to restrict civil liberties without parliamentary approval.
Since France lifted its nationwide lockdown on May 11, hospital and mortality data have been on a steady downward trend, raising officials’ confidence to roll back the emergency legislation.
“In view of the positive evolution of the health situation at this stage, the government wishes to put an end to the state of health emergency, which must remain an exceptional case,” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe’s office said.
Despite the end of the emergency power, France’s Council of Ministers was presented with a new bill on Wednesday that would allow the government to restrict freedom of movement, make face masks compulsory on public transport, close businesses and ban large gatherings for another four months. The bill will be voted on by the National Assembly on June 17.
While France’s advisory Scientific Council has confirmed that there will be no return to a nationwide lockdown, the bill would allow for local measures in the event of an outbreak such as lockdowns, travel bans or school closures.
France’s coronavirus death toll has reached 29,296, the fifth highest in the world and third highest in Europe, after the United Kingdom and Italy. On Tuesday, the number of people in intensive care fell below 1,000 for the first time since March 19.