Containment relief: what the government is preparing

If the date and form of the presidential address scheduled for next week are still unclear, the intentions are becoming clearer! While Emmanuel Macron must indeed outline his intentions to help the country gradually get out of confinement from December 1 – if and only if health indicators continue to start the encouraging trend of the last few days – the meetings are linked to all levels of power to think about the best way to prepare for this landing considered very sensitive. “It turbulates severe, and it will probably continue all weekend,” says an adviser to the executive. At this stage, and according to our information, several scenarios hold the line, mainly around three main demands expressed by the French in recent days: the reopening of certain businesses, that of places of worship and cultural places.

Non-essential shops released from the weekend of the 28th?

Friday morning, a summit meeting brought together Bruno Le Maire (Economy), Olivier Véran (Health) and Elisabeth Borne (Labor) by videoconference with the trade federations. Objective: to agree on a health protocol which will then be sent to the High Authority for Public Health for validation. This Friday afternoon, another meeting is also set between Bercy and the players in the trade to record the very likely postponement of a week of Black Friday, initially scheduled for November 27. With one idea in mind: loosen the noose on a number of businesses that are not essential to the start of Christmas shopping, particularly clothing and toys.

The government plans to authorize their reopening on the weekend of 28-29 November, considered one of the most important in terms of annual turnover. “Maintaining a promotional operation as strong as Black Friday at the same time, that would have led to crowd movements that we cannot afford given the health crisis,” explains one at the top of power. “It is out of the question to open shops with promotions and indicators that would not go in the right direction”, supports Bercy.

“We all hope for a win-win deal that manages to reconcile economy and health,” insists MP Roland Lescure, chairman of the Committee on Economic Affairs in the Assembly. An oxygen tank from which bars and restaurants should not however benefit, suspected of being important places of contamination and which will undoubtedly not reopen before 2021.

A gauge of thirty people for religious ceremonies?

The expectations are strong on the side of the religious communities. If places of worship have not been closed since the start of the reconfinement, religious ceremonies are on the other hand prohibited, with the exception of burials for which the tonnage is set at 30 people and weddings (10). In recent days, several demonstrations have taken place to demand a relaxation of this rule, particularly from the side of the Catholic community to re-authorize mass.

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“Freedom of worship is a constitutional right, we cannot decide just anything,” we admit in high places. If the Constitutional Council had indeed allowed the restrictions within the framework of the reconfinement, it was only because of the health emergency. “From the moment it improves, freedom of worship must be the first noose to be loosened,” continues an adviser who sets the horizon for December 1.

But with which gauge? It is out of the question to create a third one, which would lead to confusion. The one chosen for burials, that is to say thirty, holds the rope at this stage. “But reflections are still underway. It is also a story of square meters per person, and very suitable health protocol, ”explains a member of the government.

Hope for culture?

“From the moment we open for places of worship, the question of cultural spaces necessarily arises. Even if, from a constitutional point of view, it is not the same obligation ”, summarizes a minister. “This is a subject that we must obviously put on the table. The French would not understand that we are authorizing Masses again, and that we are not allowed to go to the theater again or to an exhibition. Politically, it is even untenable, ”recognizes a senior Macronist.

But again, under what condition? “The question is clearly in tune with the times, especially since the pressure from cultural players is very strong” admits a deputy. Even if another sums up the problem: “We cannot have a fundamentally different gauge than that granted for religious ceremonies. If we start in thirty, that could help very small theaters, but that is not what will reopen the Paris Opera… ”

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