20 May 2020

French PM ponders Covid-19 rules over New Caledonia challenge

5:16 pm on 20 May 2020

The French prime minister Edouard Philippe says he is prepard to discuss altering the health emergency law to take into account New Caledonia's situation.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe speaks to the National Assembly about the government's plan to exit from the lockdown.

Photo: AFP

While France attempts to contain the spread of Covid-19, New Caledonia eliminated the virus but maintains strict quarantine rules.

France recorded more than 143,000 Covid-19 cases and New Caledonia 18.

Anyone arriving in Noumea from overseas must go into three weeks of isolation, of which the last one can be spent at home.

Several New Caledonian parliamentarians warned that the looser quarantine terms chosen by France could imperil New Caledonia's Covid-free status.

They also said France's emergency application in New Caledonia went against both the constitution and the Noumea Accord, which grants the territory powers to decide its own health policies and border controls.

After being questioned in the National Assembly in Paris, Mr Philippe said that a way had to be found so that the system in New Caledonia could be kept.

Last week, the French provisions were tested in court in French Polynesia where the local quarantine practice was ruled to be too restricitive and illegal.

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