The French Parliament on Tuesday approved an extension of the state of health emergency until June 1. 

The bill was approved with 278 votes in favor, 193 against, and 13 abstentions.

There was heated debate on the matter between left- and right-wing politicians, with the latter deriding the move as an attack on public freedom.

On Jan. 20, the lower house, the National Assembly, gave the green light to extend the state of emergency, which has been in force since March 23 last year.

It has since been extended several times and was due to lapse next week on Feb. 16.

The Senate initially approved an extension until May 3, but the matter came up again as Health Minister Olivier Veran said the June timeline was essential for the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination drive to be effective.

The state of emergency gives the government unbridled power to implement measures such as curfews and travel curbs.

The government argues such authority is necessary for it to mount a successful fight against the virus, which has claimed over 80,000 lives and infected more than 3.3 million people in France.

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