Paris (AFP)

While the Covid-19 indicators turn red, the National Assembly gave the green light on the night of Thursday to Friday to the controversial extension of the means in the hands of the government, from the closures of restaurants to the restriction of travel, until end of next March.

After seven hours of exchanges punctuated by tensions, the deputies adopted at first reading this extension bill by 26 votes in favor, 17 against and 3 abstentions, without the votes of the left and the right.

It must now be considered by the Senate.

To "protect the French", "we need this text", even if it limits public freedoms, pleaded in the hemicycle the Minister of Health Olivier Véran, under fire from critics from all camps.

Even the MoDem ally raised the tone and said through Isabelle Florennes' voice her "extreme vigilance", fearing that the bill would become "a Trojan horse" attacking freedoms.

For now, Paris and the inner suburbs could go into maximum alert zone from Monday if the progression of the epidemic is confirmed.

This would mean reducing "social interactions drastically", warned Mr. Véran during a press briefing, shortly after his intervention at the Palais Bourbon.

"We will have to make decisions that are sometimes adapted territorially, transparent", Emmanuel Macron had indicated earlier.

And this, by relying on the tools of the exit from the state of health emergency.

Entered into force on March 24, the then newly created state of emergency was maintained until July 10.

A law organizing his release then came into force, with restrictions still possible: on the movement of people or vehicles, the obligation of tests for people arriving or leaving the territory, the reception of the public in certain establishments or even gatherings.

These restrictions were expected to end at the end of October.

Alas, faced with the acceleration of contaminations, the government has already imposed since Monday in eleven cities including Paris and Lyon the closure of sports halls and at 10 p.m. bars, and a total closure of bars and restaurants in Aix-Marseille and in Guadeloupe.

- "pressure cooker" -

Affected economic sectors are on alert, local elected officials are stiffening.

The deputies echoed these "tensions in the territories", where according to Thierry Benoit (UDI) "the pressure cooker is ready to explode".

Especially since there is an "inconsistency" of measures between certain cities, pointed out the socialist Marietta Karamanli.

The bill giving the executive the means to act for an additional five months "does not arouse general enthusiasm", euphemized Mr. Véran, calling for "courage".

Each in his wake assaulted "responsibility".

"We share the concern of our fellow citizens and the government" in the health crisis, but "the proposed text goes too far and for too long," said Philippe Gosselin (LR), noting that the period includes departmental and regional elections Of March.

He has sought unsuccessfully with others to reduce the extension to the end of 2020.

Same prejudices on the left: the rebels consider the transitional regime "not necessary" and the Communists warn against "habituation to a regime derogating from common law".

The parliamentarians have extensively relayed the arguments of the Defender of Rights, Claire Hédon, who warned against the risk of "disproportionate infringement" of rights and freedoms.

On the side of the majority, some have pleaded unsuccessfully for flexibility, in particular for nightclubs closed since March - a "ban" from the sector and youth according to Christophe Blanchet (MoDem), himself operator of several these establishments for twenty years.

Pressed by the government, the deputies backpedaled on the idea of ​​proportionality of the gauges in the stadiums according to the total number of seats offered, a principle which had been introduced in committee on the initiative of Sacha Houlié (LREM).

Mr. Véran advocated the maintenance of national measures.

A new bill is already emerging, by January: the government is working on a "sustainable management system" of health emergencies of all types, with the key "proportionate" measures, he assures.

© 2020 AFP