French stores selling “non-essential” goods will be closed, the minister said

France is not yet ready to resume stores selling “non-essential” goods, as efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 must be maintained, said Marc Fesneau, junior minister of relations with parliament on Wednesday.

An update on the rules for these companies had been expected on Thursday, when Prime Minister Jean Castex was to hold a press conference on the COVID-19 situation in France, almost two weeks into a new national shutdown.

When President Emmanuel Macron announced the lockdown, he had said that restaurants, cafes and shops that do not sell important goods must be closed for at least two weeks.

Asked if non-essential stores such as hairdressers or bookstores could be reopened, Fesneau told France Info radio: “Not at this stage” and added: “I understand the need of these companies”.

“Every time people move, they multiply the risk of infection and multiply the risk of the virus spreading … When we feel that restrictive measures are affecting, we will assess whether we can alleviate the pressure on these companies,” he added.

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

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

The ministry also reported 472 new hospital deaths due to the disease in the last day, adding that the number had risen sharply in the past week as some institutions retrieved reporting data that had not been provided previously.