France has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. On Monday, the number of cases rose to 165,842, the death toll rising to 23,000 – the double digits ranking fourth behind the United States, Italy and Spain.
However, as the number of people hospitalized has decreased daily for two weeks and the number of intensive care patients has decreased for 19 consecutive days, the country is now moving forward with plans to reopen. Here’s what we know so far.
The overall plan
Today, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe addressed the country’s National Assembly about the measures proposed to end the deadlock that started on March 17. He developed plans announced earlier this month for a gradual easing of restrictions from May 11.
However, he is sending a bill to parliament to extend the country’s state of emergency until July 23 to continue to restrict freedom of movement, business and assembly. A vote on new measures will take place this evening.
What is the Deal for Retail?
Although people should continue to work from home beyond May 11 when possible, non-essential French retailers can reopen on that date, except those in shopping centers. They will have the right to insist that buyers wear masks on site.
Restaurants and cafes will remain closed until at least early June.
Services on the Paris metro will be increased, with 70% of the Paris network to be operational on May 11. Wearing a mask will be compulsory on all transport, metros and buses. Restrictions on long distance train travel will remain in place.
When will production restart?
The date of May 11 also seems to apply to production facilities. Companies will be asked to stagger the hours of work by introducing shifts, and masks will be required when social distancing is not possible. Businesses should consider working remotely for at least a week after May 11.
The vision of the industry
Business owners will decide their reopening schedule on an individual basis within the given settings. For example, Liliane Joshua, owner of independent luxury retailer Montaigne Market, can wait until a later date. She said that as cafes and restaurants remain closed, she is concerned that traffic to its central location on Avenue Matignon in Paris will be minimal. The reopening could also mean the end of rent deferrals and elements of government assistance. “I am very worried that if we reopen on May 11, we will have fewer customers and less help,” she said.