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World News

Too early to let French shops selling "non-essential" goods reopen-minister

FILE PHOTO: A closed tourist souvenir shop is seen before the national lockdown introduced as part of the new COVID-19 measures to fight a second wave of the coronavirus disease, in Paris, France, October 29, 2020. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) - France is not yet prepared to let shops selling “non-essential” goods reopen as efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 must be upheld, Marc Fesneau, Junior Minister of Relations with Parliament said on Wednesday.

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

When President Emmanuel Macron announced the lockdown he had said that restaurants, cafes and shops not selling essential goods would have to close down for at least two weeks.

Asked about if non-essential shops such as hairdressers or bookstores could reopen, Fesneau told France Info radio: “Not at this stage”, adding: “I understand the distress of these businesses”.

“Each time people move around, they multiply infection risk and multiply risk of the virus spreading...When we feel that restriction measures are having an impact, we will assess if we can ease pressure on these businesses,” he added.

The peak of the coronavirus pandemic in France is still to come, its top health official Jerome Salomon said on Monday, urging the population to remain vigilant.

France registered a total of 1,829,659 confirmed cases of coronavirus on Tuesday, up by 22,180 over the last 24 hours, the health ministry said.

The ministry also reported 472 new deaths in hospitals from the disease over the last day, adding the numbers had increased sharply over the past week because some institutions were catching up on reporting data that had not been given previously.

Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; editing by Philippa Fletcher

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