France opens emergency loans scheme for businesses hit by coronavirus

French firms facing a cash crunch will be able to get access to low-interest loans from Wednesday to help tide them over during the coronavirus crisis, said the head of the nation's banking association.

France opens emergency loans scheme for businesses hit by coronavirus
Businesses in France have already been hard hit by the coronavirus lockdown. Photo: AFP

As the French state has provided credit guarantees, “we will offer supplementary loans to all firms,” said the head of the French Banking Federation, Frederic Oudea, in an interview broadcast Monday on the website of the daily Le Parisien.

“Every company can ask their bank for a loan up to an amount equal to three months of revenues,” added Oudea, who is also head of French bank Societe Generale.

He said the loans, which will carry an interest rate of 0.25 percent according to Le Parisien, will be available from Wednesday.

France has ordered many businesses to close and for most people to stay home in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The €300 billion in credit guarantees are one measure the French government has taken to ensure that companies are able to survive the crisis, and officials have signalled they are ready to take additional action to ensure firms don't fail.

Oudea said that firms that take out loans under the programme won't need to begin repaying them for one year.

As worries rise about firms delaying payments to one another as they try to hold onto cash, the French economy ministry and central bank announced on Monday they had established a crisis committee to monitor the situation.

While it's not quite in the same league as a €300 billion bailout The Local is also trying to help small businesses hit by coronavirus.

Here is a message from our CEO

The last few weeks have been traumatic for all of us, but if you run a business of any size the worry caused by coronavirus has been magnified.

From disappearing customers to self-isolating staff, the challenges are enormous. Even if your business has been spared the direct effects so far, few will be safe from the impact of a tanking economy.

We know that many of our readers have excellent small businesses that will continue to thrive once the crisis is over – but that getting through the crisis itself and the draconian containment measures that accompany it will be a monumental challenge.

We want to do everything we can to help our readers weather the storm – and that means helping their businesses too.

One thing we can do in concrete terms today is to help our readers reach new customers.

Here’s our offer:

1) We’re turning The Local’s Noticeboard into a forum for readers’ business to advertise their services for free.

2) We'll do everything we can to drive readers to the Noticeboard so that everyone’s ads get seen.

3) We’ll share links to the business listings on our site banners and in our social media channels so that they reach the widest possible audience.

All we ask is that your ad respects social distancing and other disease control recommendations and regulations. So please – no encouraging people to gather outside their homes.

This is a worrying time, but here at The Local we firmly believe that by innovating and working together we can limit the damage caused by this virus.

We’re open for more suggestions as to how we can help. Let’s be there for each other.

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French government votes to allow return of Covid tests at border

The French parliament has passed the controversial health bill which updates France's emergency provisions for Covid - and allows the return of negative Covid tests for all travellers at the border, if the health situation requires.

French government votes to allow return of Covid tests at border

The Loi sanitaire was eventually approved by the Assemblée nationale on Monday after several variations and amendments added on its passage through the Assemblée and the Senate. It was voted on and passed Tuesday, May 26th. 

The bill replaces the State of Health Emergency that has been in place since March 2020 and puts in place provision for government actions should the health situation deteriorate or a dangerous new variant of Covid emerge.

The original text had a provision for the return of the health pass at the border, but this has now been scrapped and instead the government has the right to make a negative Covid test a condition of entry for all travellers.

At present negative tests are required only for unvaccinated travellers, and the new test requirement would only be put into force if a dangerous new variant emerges.

The government will be able to implement the testing rule by decree for two months, but a further parliamentary debate would be required to extend it beyond that.

From August 1st the State of Health Emergency will be formally repealed, which means that the government no longer has the power to introduce major limits on personal freedom such as lockdowns or curfews without first having a debate in parliament.

The bill also allows for an extension of data collection required for the SI-DEP epidemic monitoring tools such as the contact tracing app Tous Anti Covid until June 30th, 2023 and Contact Covid until January 31st, 2023. 

The most controversial measure in the bill was the reinstatement of healthcare workers who were suspended for being unvaccinated – this actually only involves a couple of hundred people but medical unions and the medical regulator Haut Autorité de Santé (HAS) have both been against it.

However the bill allows for the eventual lifting of the requirement for Covid vaccination for healthcare workers, when the HAS judges it is no longer necessary and once the requirement is lifted, the suspended healthcare workers will be reinstated “immediately”.

The bill was approved on Monday evening with 184 votes to 149, the result of a joint committee that was able to harmonise the versions of the Assembly and the Senate.

The final vote passed the Senate on Tuesday.