Covid-19: surprise vote in the Senate in favor of reopening bars and nightclubs

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Then we dance? Not yet, but it looks like senators’ legs are itching. During the night from Tuesday to Wednesday, they removed the possibility for the Prime Minister to order the temporary closure of categories of establishments open to the public, as he still has the power to do so until the end of October. In other words, the government could no longer prohibit – or have the prefects banned -, in general, the opening of nightclubs, bars or even sports halls, in the context of the health crisis, as noted Public Senate.

The senators have been examining the bill since Tuesday in session to extend until April 1, 2021 the exceptional means at the hands of the government to deal with the Covid-19 epidemic. While Emmanuel Macron is due to speak on Wednesday evening, a long-awaited speech in a context of epidemic resumption, the members of the Senate seem determined to limit the restrictions on freedoms, even temporary, to what is strictly necessary.

This is how they adopted this amendment from the Socialist Group removing “the possibility for public authorities to pronounce absolute bans”, as indicated in its subject. The government could only regulate access to these places open to the public.

Case by case, establishment by establishment

In session, the Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, visibly very upset, thundered against this measure. If she went “at the end, tomorrow, the discotheques can reopen in Paris, Lille, Saint-Etienne, Grenoble or Marseille. […] until individually demonstrated, ERP by ERP (Editor’s note: establishment open to the public), discotheque by discotheque, that there is a cluster justifying their closure ”.

According to Olivier Véran, “there is only the possibility for a prefect to notice that a particular establishment poses difficulties with regard to health security and therefore to close a posteriori”.

VIDEO. Closing of bars: “It’s a hassle … we don’t know what will become of us”

The LR rapporteur of the bill, who succeeded him at the microphone, suggested a possible confusion of the senators of his camp, who obtained, moreover, that the discotheques can be transformed into bars to survive the health crisis. Philippe Bas proposed a second deliberation on the vote of the socialist amendment “since now we are fully enlightened”. It can only take place before the vote on the whole text. If by any chance the senators persisted on the surprise provision, the majority in the Assembly would certainly make short work of it …

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