A tiny glimmer, a flicker of light at the end of a long dark tunnel: yesterday, for the first time since this dreadful nightmare began, the French government began talks to suggest (not confirm) that maybe towards mid-April they might – after appraisal and subject to testing – begin lifting the enforced lockdown, not all at once, but region by region and depending on age groups.
Here are three readers’ comments (which I have translated) from Le Figaro newspaper:
“No! Absolutely opposed to age segregation which is unconstitutional and would represent an unacceptable violation of liberties!! If, after forty days enforced confinement has not produced results, it’s because, quite simply, it does not work with this virus. Other methods based on personal protection, which do not completely sink the economy, should be sought (see the example of South Korea). In a democracy, you cannot put an entire people under house arrest for more than 40 days.”
“Stop dreaming. The end of confinement is not for tomorrow and even less for mid-April. As long as this virus is circulating on our territory, nothing like this will be possible.”
“To think about ending confinement, in the vacuum of government, why not? It is probably already necessary to think about it. But to talk about it in the media, when we are not even at the peak of the epidemic, will make many believe that they can relax their efforts because it is coming soon. I find this irresponsible.”
At the same time, here’s another interesting topic. Right now, four million employees are partially unemployed in France, that’s one employee in five.
The partial unemployment scheme provides that the employer pays its employees compensation corresponding to 70% of their gross remuneration, or even 100% for employees on minimum wage or less. The state will then reimburse businesses in full for salaries up to 6,927 Euros gross monthly, i.e. 4.5 times the minimum wage. (from today’s Le Figaro)
From The New York Times:
In France, the government is spending 45 billion euros ($50 billion) to pay businesses to not lay off workers. Deadlines for taxes and loan payments are delayed. Another €300 billion in state-guaranteed loans are being extended to any struggling company that needs them.
As the coronavirus wallops the world’s economies, France is rapidly emerging as a test case of whether a country can hasten the recovery from a recession by protecting businesses from going under in the first place, and avoiding mass joblessness.
Here’s the article. Take a look: