Queues in barber retailers in France are making coronavirus lockdown simpler
© Reuters. People wearing protective face masks leave a toy store in Nice
By Yonathan Van der Voort
PARIS (Reuters) – People stood in line outside barbershops and department stores selling gifts and Christmas decorations on Saturday as France partially reopened after a month-long lockdown.
Stores selling non-essential goods such as shoes, clothing and toys have reopened as part of the first easing of a nationwide lockdown that began October 30th and will last until December 15th. Bars and restaurants will be closed until January 20th.
“Today we have people who have been waiting for weeks while others are coming now so they can look good for Christmas because you never know what will happen next,” Remi Thor, a hairdresser in central Paris, told Reuters.
A hairdresser at J-Coiffeur in western Paris said that despite its online reservation system, people still showed up without a booking and queued outside.
“Under the current rules, you can’t wait inside,” he said.
As a condition of the reopening, the government reduced the number of people allowed in stores, which is a challenge for small retail stores.
At Printemps – whose 19 luxury department stores cover a total of 180,000 square meters – the director of the flagship store on Paris Boulevard Haussmann, Pierre Pelarrey, said the store is closely monitoring visitor numbers.
“We calculate the traffic in real time to make sure we adhere to the limit on the number inside,” he told Reuters.
Many small business owners complained that the new rules were difficult to operate and said traffic was slow as customers postpone their purchases until Black Friday, which was delayed by a week to December 4th.
Paris’ Deputy Mayor Emmanuel Gregoire said on Franceinfo radio that Mayor Anne Hidalgo would hold talks with retail organizations to allow them to open on Sundays to catch up on lost sales.
“2020 will be a disastrous year for everyone, but December will be crucial to limit the damage,” he said.
The government has already allowed stores to stay open until 9:00 p.m. so they can receive more customers despite surface restrictions.
At the Pasteur Hospital in the Mediterranean city of Nice, whose intensive care unit is twice the normal bed capacity due to COVID-19, the head of the intensive care unit, Carole Ichai, hoped that people would be responsible.
“I hope we will not regret this opening. The shopkeepers are making an effort, now everyone has to take their civil responsibility seriously,” she said.
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