France's Le Maire: I want to save Christmas for shopkeepers

PARIS (Reuters) - French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Thursday the crucial Christmas season for businesses and shopkeepers could be saved, provided people stick to strict guidelines under the current lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

"What I wish is that we can save December for retailers... What will dictate the decision of the prime minister and of the president is the protection of the safety of the French population," Le Maire told BFM Business radio.

"We could have a dynamic December" if the population sticks to current guidelines, he added.

On Wednesday Marc Fesneau, Junior Minister of Relations with Parliament said France was not yet prepared to let shops selling "non-essential" goods reopen as efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 must be upheld.

An update on the rules for these businesses is expected later on Thursday, when Prime Minister Jean Castex holds a news conference regarding the COVID-19 situation in France, almost two weeks into a new national lockdown.

Le Maire however insisted on Thursday that "nothing had yet been decided". These decisions would be taken at a French Cabinet ministerial meeting this morning.

He said he would propose at the Cabinet meeting further aid to small and medium-sized businesses hit by the current lockdown in the form of rental payment relief and tax credits.


"Excess inventories is also a major issue. We must also help on inventories," Le Maire said.




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