French Senate approves state of health emergency in the face of soaring infections
French senators have approved a bill giving the government special powers to fight the worsening of the coronavirus epidemic which has left 372 dead in France, with President Emmanuel Macron warning that the country is only “in beginning of this crisis “.
The text, which will be examined by the National Assembly on Friday, allows the government to restrict the freedom of movement of people and to rule by decree on the requisition of certain goods and services, over a period of two months.
The bill also empowers the government to take special measures to support French companies hit hard by the virus outbreak.
It was adopted overnight by an overwhelming majority of senators, who met in reduced format in accordance with health guidelines.
However, many left-wing senators abstained to protest the duration of the state of emergency, which they considered too long.
Opposition senators also opposed giving companies the power to force workers to take part of their annual leave during the crisis.
“Race against the virus”
France crossed the threshold of 10,000 coronavirus cases on Thursday, the third day of a nationwide lockdown, with health authorities revealing 108 new deaths in just 24 hours – a 20% increase from the previous day.
At a press conference, the director of the health agency Jérôme Salomon added that the number of cases had risen to 10,995, against 9,134 on Wednesday. Salomon said 1,122 people were in serious condition, requiring resuscitation.
“We are at the start of this crisis. We have taken exceptional measures to absorb this first wave, but we have launched a race against the virus,” President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday at the start of a crisis meeting at the ministry of the Interior. .
“You have to react a lot and reorganize yourself at every moment. You have to anticipate,” he added.
Macron’s government has come under intense pressure from overwhelmed health professionals due to a shortage of face masks, gloves and other basic equipment.
It is estimated that France has around 5,000 beds equipped with the necessary equipment, but these are unevenly distributed over the territory.