Shops will have to adapt to accommodate customers. - ROMUALD MEIGNEUX / SIPA

  • Edouard Philippe presented Tuesday the broad outlines of the plan of "deconfinement" of the country.
  • The Prime Minister wants the economy to restart to avoid "collapse".
  • The businesses that reopen will have to adapt, and the employees who return to the offices will have new rules to respect.

Restart the economy, but not the epidemic. This is the perilous path proposed by Edouard Philippe this Tuesday, before the deputies. For the Prime Minister, if containment has proven effective in slowing the spread of Covid-19, "the prolonged shutdown of production (...) would present for the country (...) the much more terrible risk of collapse".

The head of government has therefore presented several measures to allow businesses to reopen in mid-May, while adapting to the new health situation.

Teleworking still preferred

The practice of telework, democratized "by force" due to confinement, should continue after May 11. "I ask businesses: telework must be maintained wherever possible, at least for the next three weeks" explained Edouard Philippe. Employers are therefore invited not to bring employees back to the offices, probably at least until the beginning of June.

This call to stay at work at home, for those who can, is linked to the desire to limit the congestion of public transport as much as possible. The government plans indeed drastic measures: in the metros, buses, trams, one seat out of two will be condemned and the barrier gestures will have to be respected. Lines already saturated in normal times are therefore likely to be even more congested than usual, with for example queues in front of stations.

Another idea from Edouard Philippe: "For people who will not be able to telecommute, the practice of shift schedules in the company should be encouraged". Again, it is a question of limiting the peaks of frequentation in transport (between 7h and 9h, for example), knowing that all the companies and all the employees will not be able to shift their schedules because of personal or professional constraints.

For those who will have to return to their place of employment, the International Labor Organization (ILO) compiled this Tuesday a list of recommendations to companies. She advises them to improve ventilation in the premises, to regularly clean the surfaces, or to make available the means necessary to wash their hands and to ensure disinfection. The organization also explained that businesses could, for example, leave doors open "so people don't have to touch the handles" and introduce systems for shift rotation.

Open shops, but ...

“Non-essential” businesses have been closed since mid-March. On May 11, many of them will be able to reopen all over France: hairdressers, furniture stores, jewelry stores, clothing stores, etc. But beware: "[each business] must respect strict specifications, limiting the number of people present at the same time in the store and organizing flows, in order to enforce the rule of the minimum distance of one meter per person without contact around her, ”said Edouard Philippe. Small shops where customers rub shoulders may find it difficult to enforce these rules and will likely find themselves forced to queue outside. Another novelty: a merchant will have the right to refuse access to the store to a person who is not wearing a mask.

Several types of shops, however, will remain closed throughout the month of May. These are bars, restaurants, theaters and performance halls. The executive will decide at the end of May whether they can welcome clients again in June, or later. An insufficient proposition for the right. This Tuesday Damien Abad, leader of the deputies LR, asked "to accelerate the economic recovery in the least affected departments" by proceeding to the reopening of bars and restaurants in these areas from May. Note that shopping centers over 40,000 square meters may remain closed on the orders of the prefects, to prevent their reopening from attracting too many people.

Partial unemployment which will change after June?

From the start of the containment, the government revised the rules of partial unemployment, which concerns more than 10 million workers. Currently, the State covers the entire cost of this measure, up to 4.5 Smic per employee. A real relief for companies, but not for public finances, with a bill approaching 25 billion euros.

This Tuesday, the Prime Minister opened the door to less generous compensation conditions within a month: "We will then have to adapt [the device] gradually, to support the resumption of activity if the epidemic is under control ”. It could also mean that government departments will be much more attentive to requests for partial activity made by companies from June.


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  • Edouard Philippe
  • Job
  • Coronavirus
  • Confinement
  • Economy