Marseille to set up own Covid scientific council in a protest over ‘dependency’ on Paris scientists
The French city of Marseille has adopted a proposal to form its own scientific council to assess Covid statistics and develop more informed local policies, as it battles against “unjust” lockdown rules imposed by the government.
The proposal was adopted on Monday, having been put forward by outspoken former French senator Samia Ghali, the current second-in-command of the city administration.
The move will see Marseille take a leading role in the assessment of its own health situation and provide the mayor, Michèle Rubirola, and city leaders with the necessary information to manage their own policies on Covid restrictions, Ghali said.
The mayor must chair a scientific council … to see what the deficiencies are, and so we have a perspective and no longer depend on certain Parisian scientists, but also so we, ourselves, have the capacity to say what is going and what is not, and no longer suffer the thunderbolt of Paris.
Ghali has been particularly vocal in her criticism of Parisian lawmakers in recent weeks, following the imposition of new Covid restrictions in Marseille and neighboring Aix-en-Provence. The government decreed in September that the southern city would become a ‘maximum alert zone’, causing the closure of all restaurants and bars for 15 days, which was seen by many in Marseille as unjustified. The restaurants were eventually allowed to reopen from Monday under certain conditions, which prompted Ghali to say the earlier strictures were “unfair and therefore not sustainable.”
Paris escaped fresh restrictions in September, leading many elected officials in Marseille to suggest France’s second city was not treated in the same way as the capital. Rubirola had previously shared her disapproval on Twitter, claiming “The announcements of Olivier Véran confirm this evening the unequal treatment suffered by Marseille. Inconsistent and unfair.” Restrictions were eventually introduced in Paris on Monday.
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However, the announcement of a scientific council for Marseille has been met with criticism by some political leaders. The president of the Regional Council of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Renaud Muselier, said there are already 10 existing and competent health bodies at national and regional level. “In this crisis, each of these structures has its own expertise and role to play. Adding a purely Marseille thing to it can only add confusion and cacophony to an already disturbing disorder,” he noted.
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