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French MPs take a swing at COVID-easing as sex clubs allowed to reopen but nightclubs remain closed

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Lights shine on an empty LIV nightclub Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020, in Miami Beach, Florida.
Lights shine on an empty LIV nightclub Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020, in Miami Beach, Florida.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Lynne Sladky
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Some French MPs have expressed their bafflement at the government's easing of COVID-19 restrictions which will see nightclubs remain closed but swingers' clubs reopen.

France began easing some of its lockdown measures earlier this month with the next phase scheduled for May 19. On this date, outdoor dining and drinking will be allowed while shops, cinemas, museums and theatres will be able to reopen.

And so will some swingers' clubs.

But nightclubs, which have now been closed for 14 months, still have no clarity over when they might be allowed to welcome revellers but the government's calendar suggest it will not happen until July at the very earliest.

Some MPs have pointed out the "incoherence" of the government's strategy.

"We end up with absurd things (...) and we know well that in these clubs we practice all the social distancing gestures... that's why we go there," Philippe Gosselin, MP for the northern Manche département, told parliament earlier this week as colleagues laughed.

"You can see the incoherence. We are going to prevent young people from eventually going dancing and we are going to allow other types of establishments to open," he added.

Fellow MP Jean Lassalle, for the southwestern département of Pyrénées-Atlantiques, also spoke of the matter.

"The oldest among us know that some swingers' clubs remained open during all of lockdown, very many of our colleagues had their habits there in previous mandates and I'm not even counting ministers," he said prompting guffaws of laughter in parliament, before being chided by the president of session.

"Then how can we explain this inequality of treatment with nightclubs," he continued, flagging that their closure had resulted in "45,000 jobs and €1.3 billion loss so far."

Businesses welcoming clients are allowed to reopen based on how they are categorised. Some for instance, may fall into multiple categories if they provide several services such as a spa with a restaurant. In this case, they may have to open the various parts of their operations at different times.

In the case of swingers' clubs, those categorised as a club/restaurants will be allowed to reopen to the public come May 19, while those categorised as nightclubs will not.