But the relief he feels is overshadowed by a lingering uncertainty about whether he can save his summer season.
From beach bars along the Côte d’Azur to campsites in the Dordogne, companies in the battered tourism industry had to face a race against time to get staff off, reactivate supply chains and guarantee reservations.
Few were those who were under illusions: the return to business would be simple, especially in Paris where the virus is more widespread and the restrictions more stringent. Restaurants and cafes, for example, can only open outdoor spaces.
“In a way, this allows us to reopen the kitchen, to move up a gear, to contact suppliers and to reopen little by little,” explained Coeroli, whose restaurant Le Zebre has limited space on the “terrace”.
“But it’s not with three tables outside that we’re going to make a living, that’s for sure. “
From June 2, France reopens its beaches and allows restaurants, bars and cafes to resume their activities. He is also ending travel restrictions in the country and wants Europe to lift internal border restrictions by mid-June. [nL8N2DA5S4]
In Cannes, which normally hosts one of the biggest film festivals in the world, public workers disinfected the beach in front of the expected crowds.
Further east along the Mediterranean coast in Nice, private beach operator René Colomban has no shortage of outdoor space for his restaurant tables and lounge chairs. But there is a lack of visibility on the return of foreign tourists.
“We do not know how it will go,” he said. He will take his 14 permanent employees off the job, but is still waiting 10 seasonal workers to find out if they have a job this summer.
“I think we will be hiring fewer people this year,” he added.
Almost 90 million foreign tourists visited France in 2018, making it the most visited country in the world. Tourism represents around 7% of the French economy of 2.3 trillion euros (2.48 trillion dollars).
Ge Kusters, owner of Le Paradis campsite in the Dordogne, said he anticipated a slow start to June, with most of the first bookings now canceled. But July looked promising, he said.
The opening hours of the pool will be staggered and customers will receive disinfectant wipes to take to the washrooms.
When asked if summer income could be saved, he replied, “The high season accounts for 70-80% of our income. We are quite confident. “
Report by Lucien Libert and Richard Lough in Paris and Eric Gaillard in Nice; Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Mike Collett-White
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