Shops reopen in France as national lockdown eases

Queues formed outside hairdressers’ shops and department stores sold gifts and Christmas decorations on Saturday as France partially reopened after a month-long lockdown.

Shops selling non-essential goods, such as shoes, clothes and toys, reopened in the first easing of national restrictions since 30 October. Bars and restaurants remain closed until 20 January.


Remi Thor, a barber in central Paris, said: “Today we have people who had been waiting for weeks, while others are coming now so they can look good for Christmas, as one never knows what happens next.”

A barber at J-Coiffeur in western Paris said despite his online reservation system, people were showing up without booking and were queuing up outside. “Under current rules, they cannot wait inside,” he said.

Printemps – which has 19 luxury department stores with a combined floorspace of 180,000 sq metres  has been tracking footfall closely.

Pierre Pelarrey, the director of Printemps’ flagship Paris Boulevard Haussmann store, said: “We calculate the traffic in real time to make sure we respect the limit on the number inside,” he said.

As a condition for reopening, the government reduced the number of people allowed in shops. Many small business owners complained it was hard to operate under the new rules and said traffic was slow as clients were postponing their shopping until Black Friday, which has been delayed by a week to 4 December in France.

The deputy mayor of Paris, Emmanuel Gregoire, told local radio that the mayor, Anne Hidalgo, would hold talks with retail organisations about allowing them to open on Sundays to catch up on lost sales.

“2020 will be a catastrophic year for everyone, but in order to limit the damage, December will be crucial,” he said.

The government has allowed shops to open until 9pm so they can receive more customers despite the capacity limits.

At the Pasteur hospital in Nice, where the intensive care unit is running at twice its normal bed capacity due to Covid-19 patients, the ICU head, Carole Ichai, said she hoped people would be responsible.

“I hope we will not regret this opening. Shopowners are making an effort, now everyone needs to take their civil responsibility seriously,” she said.




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