Emergency legislation to deal with the covid epidemic-19

featured image

Summary of the emergency health law adopted on 22/03/20, to be published in the Official Journal of 23/03/20…

Résumé de la loi d’urgence sanitaire adoptée le 22/03/20, à paraître au Journal Officiel du 23/03/20…

Adoption of the text

On March 19, 2020, the Senate passed the bill. On 21 March 2020, the National Assembly in turn passed the bill. On 22 March 2020, a joint committee, composed of 7 deputies and 7 senators, met to reach agreement on a final version of the text.

On 22 March 2020, Parliament adopted the emergency bill to deal with the covid-19 epidemic. A two-month « state of health emergency » throughout the country is established as soon as the law comes into force (published in the JORF on 23/03/20).

A new legal framework

This law establishes a « sanitary » state of emergency system, alongside the common law state of emergency provided for by the law of 3 April 1955. It is a question of « strengthening the legal bases » on which has been the basis of the measures taken so far to manage the Covid-19 outbreak.

This new state of health emergency may concern part or all of the territory (including overseas territories) « in the event of a health disaster endangering, by its nature and extent, the health and safety of the population ».

It is declared by a decree in the Council of Ministers, based on the report of the Minister of Health. The available scientific data on the health situation which motivated the decision are made public.

Its extension beyond one month must be authorized by a law, which determines its duration.

Within the framework of this state of emergency, the Prime Minister may, by decree and/or order, take general measures limiting the freedom to come and go, the freedom of movement of persons, the freedom of the press and the freedom of the media.

and freedom of assembly and allowing for the requisitioning of any necessary goods and services and for deciding on temporary price control measures. Such measures may include home containment measures.

The Minister responsible for health may, by order, determine other general measures and individual measures. Prefects may be empowered to take local

enforcement actions. All such measures must be proportionate to the risks involved.

When a state of public health emergency is declared, « a committee of scientists » shall be convened immediately. This Committee shall periodically make public its opinion on the measures taken under the emergency.

A series of exceptional measures

Economic emergency measures

The Government is empowered to take, by ordinance, within three months, any measure to deal with the economic, financial and social consequences of the crisis.

of the spread of the epidemic in order to prevent and limit the cessation of activity of natural and legal persons engaged in economic activity.

Examples of measures :

– Authorisation for companies « particularly necessary » for the security of the nation or the continuity of economic and social life to derogate from the rules of order.

and to the conventional stipulations relating to working hours, weekly rest and Sunday rest.

– facilitating the use of partial activity

– temporary suspension of the waiting day in the event of sick leave for the duration of the state of health emergency

– adaptation of the rules for the filing and processing of administrative declarations

– subject to an enterprise or branch agreement, an employer may impose or modify the dates on which part of the paid leave is taken, up to a limit of six days. The company’s business activities do not require the use of the so-called « advance notice » periods to inform the persons concerned.

For very small companies without staff representatives, employees will be able to be consulted directly by their employer. (Cf. order n°2017-1385 of 22 September 2017 relating to the strengthening of collective bargaining).

The employer may unilaterally impose or modify the dates of days of reduced working hours, rest days provided for in package agreements and rest days allocated to the employee’s time savings account, without prior notice.

Restriction of civil liberties

Example of possible measures :

prohibition of the movement of persons and vehicles; prohibition of persons from leaving their homes, subject to travel that is strictly necessary for family or health needs; order measures for the implementation of the quarantine of persons likely to be infected; order measures to place and keep infected persons in isolation; order the temporary closure of one or more categories of establishments open to the public and of meeting places, with the exception of establishments providing essential goods or services; limit or prohibit gatherings on the public highway and meetings of any kind; order the requisitioning of all goods and services necessary to combat the health disaster; take temporary measures to control the prices of certain products necessary to prevent or correct the tensions observed on the market for these products; take any measure allowing patients to be provided with appropriate medicines for the eradication of the health disaster; take by decree any other regulatory measure restricting the freedom of enterprise.

Warning: On 22/03/2020, the Council of State, ruling in summary proceedings, called for a more restrictive confinement. The government has 48 hours to modify its measures. According to the Council of State, total confinement is not conceivable in the present state, because it could have "serious consequences for the health of the population" and it would also require home catering which could not be "organized throughout the national territory, given the means at the disposal of the administration". The Conseil d'Etat adds that the maintenance of certain professions, such as in the medical field, implies the "continuation of certain essential activities on which they depend. »
The magistrates of the Council of State are asking the
government to tighten the "ambiguous" scope of the authorisations
granted to the confined population. The government must specify the degree of
urgency for which a person will be allowed to travel. (Jogging and open markets
are in the Council of State's sights).
The government has until Tuesday evening to follow the
injunctions of the Council of State.
As a reminder, according to Decree No. 2020-260 of 16 March 2020 regulating travel as part of the fight against the spread of the covid virus19 :
In order to prevent the spread of the covid-19 virus, it is forbidden until 31 March 2020 to move any person outside his or her home, except for the following reasons, in compliance with general measures to prevent the spread of the virus and avoiding any gathering of people:
1° Journeys between the home and the place(s) where the professional activity is carried out and professional journeys that cannot be postponed;

2° Travel to make purchases of supplies necessary for the professional activity and purchases of basic necessities in establishments whose activities remain authorised by order of the Minister for Health issued on the basis of the provisions of Article L. 3131-1 of the Public Health Code;

3° Travel for health reasons ;

4° Displacements for compelling family reasons, for the assistance of vulnerable persons or for childcare;

5° Short trips, close to home, related to the individual physical activity of persons, excluding any collective sports practice, and to the needs of the pets;

6° Travel resulting from an obligation of presentation to the national police or gendarmerie services or to any other service or professional, imposed by the administrative police authority or the judicial authority ;
7° Travel resulting from a summons issued by an administrative court or judicial authority;

8° Travel for the sole purpose of participating in missions of general interest at the request of the administrative authority and under the conditions it specifies.

Persons wishing to benefit from one of these exceptions must, when travelling away from home, carry a document enabling them to justify that the journey in question falls within the scope of one of these exceptions.

– Immigration


The government is also authorised to extend by ordinance the period of validity of the residence documents issued to foreigners (residence permit, certificate of asylum application…) which expire between 16 March and 15 May 2020, up to a maximum of six months.

Article 16 of the State of Health Emergency Act: Under the conditions laid down in Article 38 of the Constitution, the Government is authorised, within one month of the publication of this Act, to take by ordinance any measure falling within the scope of the Act to extend the period of validity of long-stay visas, residence permits, provisional residence permits, receipts for applications for residence permits and certificates of asylum applications which expired between 16 March and 15 May 2020, up to a limit of one hundred and eighty days.

It is therefore necessary to wait for the ordinance. For the time being, for any residence permit which would expire as of 16/03/2020, automatic extension of 3 months,

maintenance of social rights and the right to work.

French expatriates :

By way of derogation, French expatriates who returned to France between March 1, 2020 and June 1, 2020 and who are not in employment are affiliated to the health and maternity insurance without being subject to a waiting period. The terms and conditions of application of this Article may be specified by decree.

As a reminder: the prefectural reception services for foreigners remain closed until further notice.

The external borders of the European area and the Schengen area are closed from 17 March 2020 and for 30 days.

The persons authorized, with their spouse and children, to enter the national territory in order to reach their residence are the following:

– French citizens;

– citizens of the European Union;

– nationals of the Schengen area;

– United Kingdom nationals

– nationals of other countries who have their permanent residence in France

In order for foreign nationals on mobility outside France to be able to return to French territory as soon as air links are re-established, they need a valid residence permit. Holders of a VLS-TS must have already validated it online and have already entered French territory.

Holders of a VLS « carte de séjour à solliciter dans les deux mois suivant votre arrivée » (« residence permit to be applied for within two months of your arrival ») can normally return to France even if they have not yet received their residence permit and even if they have not started the procedures at the prefecture, as long as they have already entered French territory.

Beware of the internal borders of the Schengen area (Schengen borders).

Some EU Member States have closed their borders while others only allow border crossings in specific cases. To be specified on a case-by-case basis.

– Sanctions

Any violation of the prohibitions or obligations shall be punishable by a fine of EUR 135.In the event of a repeat offence within 15 days, the fine may range from 1,500 to 3,000 euros. If the violations are repeated more than three times within 30 days, the offences are punishable by six months’ imprisonment and a fine of EUR 3,750 and an additional penalty of community service.