PARIS | The first day of the new confinement in France, Friday, resulted in a life in slow motion, but also by the anger of independent businesses whose activity is considered “unnecessary” and which are forced to close, unlike the malls.
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This lightened confinement took effect at midnight. Scheduled “a minimum” until December 1, it is more flexible than that of March-April.
If “the crossing of Paris this [vendredi] morning looked more like an ordinary day than a first day of confinement ”, in the words of the director general of the AP-HP (Public Assistance – Hospitals of Paris), Martin Hirsch, on Twitter, but the attendance was clearly less than a normal day in public transport.
As during the first confinement, exemptions are possible for shopping, going to the doctor, but also getting air for “one hour maximum” and in “a radius of one kilometer from the home”.
Public service counters or food markets will remain open (unless the prefect decides otherwise), and some stores benefit from exemptions. But businesses deemed “non-essential” (including bars and restaurants) will remain closed.
“Anger of traders”
This latest measure has caused an uproar among many traders, including booksellers, furious that large brands remain open and competition from online sales platforms.
Faced with the controversy, the Fnac-Darty stores announced Friday to close “all the culture departments” of its stores, “for the sake of responsibility”. And the government announced in the evening that the book and culture departments of supermarkets and specialized food would be “temporarily closed tonight”, “for the sake of equity between supermarkets and independent bookstores”.
Many stores, such as clothing and toys, are alarmed by a closure during the key period leading up to the holiday season.
The Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire said he understood “the anger of traders (…) especially as the Christmas holidays are approaching and many have built up stocks”.
“It’s a real blow. But we won’t let anyone down. We are providing these closed businesses with massive economic support, even more powerful than during the first confinement, ”he said.
There are three major changes compared to spring: schools, colleges and high schools will reopen on Monday after the All Saints holidays, we can visit residents of retirement homes and work can continue.
But “the use of teleworking must be as massive as possible”, “five days out of five”, according to Prime Minister Jean Castex. It is “not an option”, but an “obligation”, insisted the Minister of Labor Elisabeth Borne.
But “we in the construction industry continue to work. Fortunately! », Rejoices, mask on the face and fogged glasses, a worker who works on the renovation of a building in the center of Strasbourg (East) otherwise less populated than usual.
In anticipation of this reconfinement, the French have prepared, sometimes filling up with toilet paper, or books as in the libraries of Bordeaux, taken by storm Thursday.
The authorities will take stock every two weeks on the evolution of the epidemic to see if the measures should be strengthened or lightened. The executive’s objective is to achieve “around 5,000” cases of contamination per day, against more than 47,000 recorded Thursday.
Debt is growing
“I think we will be closed until January”, launches, fatalist, a restaurant owner who arranges his terrace on the Place du Capitole in Toulouse.
On Friday, one in five people tested in France was positive and the number of patients hospitalized in intensive care or intensive care stood at 3,368, with 422 new admissions since the day before. The death toll reached 36,565, with 256 deaths recorded in the past 24 hours.
Unsurprisingly, the reconfinement will weigh heavily on the French economy. The government now expects a slightly more severe recession than expected this year, despite the strong rebound in the French economy in the third quarter.
Gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to contract by 11%, said Bruno Le Maire, who so far predicted an already significant 10% recession. Public debt will come close to 120% (119.8%) of GDP in 2020, against 117.5% forecast recently, the minister told Le Parisien.