French supermarkets can now sell “non-essential products”

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“Non-essential” items can continue to be sold in French supermarkets until tomorrow (Wednesday November 4) as a “day of grace” is allowed until these aisles are forced to close under the new rules. locking.Supermarkets were banned from selling “non-essential” items by decree from Prime Minister Jean Castex this week, in order to align them with small local stores which had to close under the lockdown.

Read more: French supermarkets banned from selling “non-essential products”

But the Ministry of the Economy has confirmed that there will be a day of “tolerance” today (Tuesday, November 3), the rules will come into full force by decree tomorrow.

In a press release, he said: “[The decree defining necessary items] will be released Tuesday morning, so there is tolerance until Wednesday. ”

Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire held a meeting on Monday, November 2 with several representatives of large and medium-sized supermarket companies, and a decree detailing the products deemed “essential” is due to be released today.

The aisles of supermarkets that sell items considered “non-essential” – such as books, DVDs or party clothes – will be closed to the public and / or their products will not be allowed for sale. Alleyways that sell “essential” goods – such as food or gardening equipment – may remain open.

Electronic group FNAC-Darty – whose stores have been allowed to remain open – also announced that it would voluntarily close aisles selling non-essential products “to take responsibility.”

Stores are fighting back

Some small stores across France have fought back against foreclosure rules that would otherwise force them to close.

Mayors across the country have allowed some stores – like bookstores – to stay open by decree, arguing that they “must continue to be able to earn a living” and that all Covid-19 precautions are in place.

Read more: French mayors defend the opening of “non-essential” stores

A shopkeeper from Blotzheim in the Haut-Rhin, on the Franco-Swiss border, has even started a hunger strike to protest against the new closure which, according to her, will put her clothing business at risk.

And a bookstore in Corsica has started selling food and offering tools for hire with the ultimate goal of staying open despite the lockdown.

Porto-Vecchio’s Verbe au Soleil – which normally sells books – now sells fruit, beer, pet food and toilet paper to customers, and also offers them tools for rent.

The move was made with a bit of humor, but it shows the desperation many stores have felt at the prospect of another month of closure.

And, despite the store selling food, it will most likely have to close by the end of the day because its book aisles will no longer be accessible to the public.

Book publisher, writer and bookseller unions le Syndicat national de edition, le Conseil permanent des writers, and the Syndicat national de la librairie française, have called on the Prime Minister to classify books as “essential items”.

In a press release, they said: “The local bookstores, which cover all of our country, are organized and well equipped. [to manage Covid]. They are perfectly capable of accommodating readers in the context of a new lockdown, in safe and hygienic conditions.

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo also appeared to support the movement, telling new source BFMTV yesterday: “Don’t buy from Amazon. Amazon is the death of our entire bookstore and the life of our neighborhoods. ”

Culture Minister Roselyn Bachelot encouraged the public to use the “click and collect” services that exist if they wish to buy a book. It’s about buying the book directly from the online bookstore, then picking it up in person – without necessarily entering the store.

What is essential and what is not?

The Ministry of the Economy is about to release a final list of articles that will officially confirm this list today.

While most non-food items sold in supermarkets are not permitted, the ministry said makeup, perfumes and similar cosmetics for sale in supermarkets will continue to be sold.

He said that while these are not necessarily “essential”, they are very different in style and quality from the cosmetics and perfumes sold in specialty stores such as Sephora and Yves Rocher, and therefore do not represent “unfair competition. “.

Products considered “non-essential”:
  • Cultural items (books, DVDs, etc.)
  • Toys
  • Clothing and textiles
  • Jewelry
  • Decoration, household items
  • white goods
  • Flowers
Products considered “essential”:
  • Food products (fresh, frozen, bread, drinks, delicatessen)
  • Pet food
  • Gasoline and fuel
  • Garage items for vehicle maintenance
  • Garden maintenance products and tools
  • Computer and communication equipment
  • Magazines, newspapers and paper
  • Specific clothing for work such as coveralls
  • Parapharmacy products such as sterilizing alcohol and bandages
  • Everyday beauty and makeup / skin care products sold in supermarkets

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