ER Editor: The large region of Les Yvelines lies adjacent to the west of the entire Paris area. It is rather rural and well-heeled, and contains the palace of Versailles. If you’re a tourist, you’ll likely visit this area at least once. It could be considered a region of influence in the metropolitan/Paris area
URGENT: the administrative court of Versailles cancels the wearing of masks in the Yvelines
Today’s (ER: Jan 12) decision of the Versailles Administrative Court is essential. It cancels the order of the Prefect of Yvelines imposing the wearing of masks on the entire territory. From our point of view, this order heralds a general shift in the jurisprudence of administrative courts in the face of the systematic abuse of the law by the government to impose excessive restrictions on freedoms under a less and less credible health pretext.
Finally, the comedy is coming to an end!
The administrative court of Versailles has just issued an order (which we’ve published above) which cancels the order of the Prefect of Yvelines on the wearing of compulsory masks in the department. The judge had the good idea to cancel the order, after the referral by a local collective.
The administrative court of Versailles cancels the wearing of the mandatory mask
It should be noted that today’s annulment is based on very interesting reasons.
In particular, the court exercised a so-called proportionality control of measures restricting freedoms. On this point, it wrote about these measures:
They can only be proportionate if they are limited to places and times of high population movement that do not allow for physical distancing and to places where people can gather, such as markets, gatherings on the public highway or shopping centres, the time periods having to be appropriate to the risks identified. The prefect, when determining on these grounds the places and times when masks must be worn in the open air, is entitled to delimit sufficiently wide areas to ensure that the rule is understandable and its application consistent.
These control criteria are important to remember for future actions: limits to freedom cannot be general and absolute, according to traditional administrative jurisprudence (but scandalously abandoned by the Council of State since the beginning of the epidemic). These limits must include specific places and times, adapted to the identified risks.
In addition, the court recalled that the rules must be understandable and consistent.
The court noted that the Prefect’s order did not respect these proportionality criteria:
The Prefect did not justify the reasons linked to local circumstances likely to favour the spread of the virus which would require that a general obligation to wear a mask outdoors be pronounced in all 259 communes of the department (ER: i.e. Les Yvelines), moreover without defining the time periods characterised by a high population density.
This decision, which comes as no surprise given the tradition of the administrative judge, appears to be out of step with the decisions taken since March 2020, which have seriously tainted the image of independence that the Council of State claims to have.
We will be pleased to see a return to reason among these judges, whose blind submission to governmental lock-in for nearly two years has signed their death warrant.
An application of a Council of State decision
In so doing, this first local annulment of a prefectoral order follows the important decision (which marks a first reversal) of the Council of State on the same subject. Summed up by the Council itself in this sentence:
The wearing of a mask can only be imposed outdoors under certain conditions
This decision suggests that the Council may now be coming to its senses. This trend is to be confirmed, because it is the (ER: Bernard) Kouchner boy Didier Tabuteau who has just taken over the vice-presidency of the Council, and the Kouchner team is not usually soft on transparency, freedoms or democracy.
We therefore remain extremely cautious about the evolution of the situation, but all hope is not lost.
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