Senate - Covid-19

French Senate considers bill on mandatory self-isolation for Covid-19 infected

File photo of the French Senate.
File photo of the French Senate. © Francois Mori/AP

The president of the French Senate has called for a draft law on compulsory isolation for people who test positive for Covid-19, saying if the measure is to be enforced, a simple parliamentary debate, as requested by President Emmanuel Macron, is not enough.


Speaking on Europe 1 radio on Thursday, Senate President Gérard Larcher said: "A debate in Parliament is not enough. It is not enough just to debate and vote when dealing with people's fundamental freedom."

Larcher pointed out the difference between "encouraging" infected people to self-isolate by appealing to their sense of civic responsibility, and "enforcing" self-isolation. 

"If these restrictions are to be enforced, they must respect a certain number of conditions: respect for medical confidentiality, support for people in isolation, the terms of isolation... This is why mandatory isolation deserves an in-depth debate that only a bill can bring."

The move follows President Emmanuel Macron's call for "a debate with all groups" in parliament during his televised address on Tuesday, where he appealed for the country "to be more restrictive with regard to those who have the virus".

François Bayrou, president of the centrist MoDem party and ally of the presidential majority, stressed on FranceInfo that "the most reasonable thing is to appeal to the responsibility" of everyone when dealing with Covid-19, emphasising the downloading and use of the the TousAntiCovid tracking application.

He added that it would be up to parliament to define if failure to respect isolation would be qualified as a crime or would give rise to a fine.

The president of the Socialist group in the National Assembly, Valérie Rabault, speaking on Sud Radio, maintained that a binding law on self-isolation was not a good idea, saying "if we impose coercive measures, the French will no longer get tested".

On the far right, the National Rally's second-in-command Jordan Bardella said they would "prefer to convince rather than constrain," and questioned the feasibility of implementing such a law. He added that he was "annoyed" by the French govenment, who he accused of "infantalising" the public.


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