- The city of Lille wants to allow traders to set up Christmas displays on the sidewalks.
- A free process to allow them to expand their retail space while respecting health measures.
- This possibility, very regulated, will nevertheless not be accessible to all stores.
Like an air of clearance sale. In Lille, as everywhere in France, shops deemed non-essential can open again since Saturday. However, as the coronavirus epidemic is still relevant, health measures to welcome customers are complicating the lives of traders. The town hall of Lille had the idea of allowing the extension of the shops on the sidewalks to gain in sales area while respecting physical distances.
The equation is simple, the number of customers a business can accommodate is a function of its overall surface area, excluding shelves and personnel. The gauge has been set by the government at 8 m² per person, with tolerances. For example, “a couple with a child entering a store will count as one person,” said the prefect of the North, Michel Lalande.
Avoid queues on the sidewalks
For shopping centers or department stores, this gauge does not necessarily pose a problem. On the other hand, for small shops that can only accommodate a few customers at a time, queues are created that are not very Covid friendly. This is what we noticed, from Saturday, in the city center of Lille.
So that businesses can comply with health measures without being too penalized, “the City wishes to authorize establishments for which it is possible to install a Christmas display,” said the town hall on Monday, specifying that this temporary occupation of the public domain would be free. A clearance sale in a way, with nevertheless conditions to be respected. “The display must be installed without obstructing access to buildings and other businesses, leaving free a minimum movement of a width of 1.40m clear of any occupation,” says the city. Suffice to say that this effectively excludes many shops in Old Lille.
A restaurateur saw his chalets retoque
This option, some professionals had thought of it from the announcement of the reopening without however anticipating the specifications. This is the case of the restaurant La Chicorée, place Rihour, which has installed two Christmas chalets in place of part of its terrace for take-out sales. An initiative not really to the taste of the town hall which prohibited the restaurant owner from using them. The type of authorized display must indeed “consist of light and aesthetic devices not fixed to the ground and not closed, easily and quickly dismantled, which will be installed during the authorized opening hours of the trade”, detailed the city.
Businesses interested in this possibility must do without some administrative procedures. They must, in particular, request “an occupation of the public domain by simplified form” and sign the charter of exceptional occupation of the public domain. In addition, the town hall reserves the right to cancel the authorizations granted “in the event of a health or other emergency”.