French told ‘go out and start spending’ to relaunch the economy

France's labour minister has called upon people to 'consume' in order to relaunch the economy as the country's lockdown is lifted.

French told 'go out and start spending' to relaunch the economy
People in France are told to hit the shops. Photo: AFP

As France moves to 'stage 2' of lifting lockdown when cafés and bars will reopen along with shops the labour minister Muriel Pénicaud has urged people to support the newly reopened businesses by spending money at them.

With virtually everything closed, French people in total saved around €60 billion during lockdown, but with long-term fears about the economy and job security, many people are worried about spending too much.

Labour minister Muriel Pénicaud. Photo: AFP

The minister said: “The French have saved and put into savings €60 billion during the period of lockdown.

“This money is also a good thing and needs to be re-circulated, because that is what will get trade and industry going again, and it will help a lot in the recovery.”

Official figures show that consumer spending in France dropped 33.7 percent in April compared with February, before the country went into lockdown, statistics agency Insee reported on Friday.

In the first three months of the year, GPD shrank 5.3 percent, Insee said on Friday, less than its initial estimate of a 5.8 percent decline.

But the agency warned this week that GDP would probably contract 20 percent in the second quarter under the full effect of the lockdown, which the government began easing only this month.

Consumer spending in April was also down by more than a third – 34.1 percent –  from the same month last year.

The recession has also pulled down inflation, which slowed to just 0.2 percent in May from a year earlier, reflecting lower energy prices as well as falling costs for food and manufactured goods such as steel, machinery and textiles, Insee said.

More than half of France's private-sector workers found themselves without jobs after the lockdown was imposed, though the government has continued to pay the bulk of their salaries to avoid a surge in layoffs that could prove permanent for many.

It has announced €110 billion in financial aid and other relief for businesses, although Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has nonetheless warned of a “cascade” of company failures.

The government has forecast an eight percent GDP slump for the full year, but Insee said this week that the decline would likely be worse.

“Households are displaying a marked pessimism concerning France's economic situation,” Insee said on Wednesday.

Member comments

  1. How can they go out and SPEND when they lost their jobs or only got paid 80% of their salary?

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France scraps compulsory self-isolation after positive Covid test

France's public health body has outlined how Covid-19 rules will change on February 1st, including an end to compulsory self-isolation after a positive test result.

France scraps compulsory self-isolation after positive Covid test

Starting on February 1st, Covid rules will relax in France as the country ends compulsory isolation for those who test positive for the virus.

However, those travelling from China to France will still be required to agree to a random screening upon arrival and to isolate in the case of a positive Covid-19 test result. Travellers aged 11 and over coming from China must also provide a negative test result (less tan 48 hours) prior to boarding and those aged six and over must agree to wear a mask on board flights. These regulations – which was set to last until January 31st – is set to remain in place until February 15th.

The French public health body (The Direction générale de la santé or DGS)  announced the change on Saturday in a decree published in the “Journal Officiel” outlining the various ways the body will loosen previous coronavirus restrictions.

READ MORE: What Covid rules and recommendations remain for visiting France?

Those who were in contact with someone who tested positive – ie a contact cases – will also no longer be required to take a test, though the public health body stressed that both testing after contact and isolating after receiving a positive test remain recommended.

Previously, even asymptomatic people who had been in contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19 were required to test on the second day after being notified that they were a “contact-case”.

These changes will take effect on February 1st.

READ MORE: What changes in France in February 2023?

The DGS also said that website SI-DEP, which records test results, will remain in operation until June 30th, however starting in February it will only collect personal data with the express permission of the patient.

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Additionally, the French government announced that sick leave procedures for people with Covid-19 will return to normal on February 1st – this means that those who test positive for Covid-19 will have the three-day wait period before daily sick benefits are required to be paid, as is usually the case. Previously, people with Covid-19 could expect daily sick benefits to begin at the start of their sick leave period (arrêt maladie in French).  

READ MORE: How sick leave pay in France compares to other countries in Europe

Covid tests are still available on walk-in basis from most pharmacies are are free to people who are fully vaccinated and registered in the French health system. Unvaccinated people, or visitors to France, have to pay up to a maximum of €22 for an antigen test of €49 for a PCR test. 

If you recently tested positive for Covid-19 in France – or you suspect you may have contracted Covid-19 – you can find some information for how to proceed here.

In explaining the changes that will begin in February, the French public health body also noted a drop in Covid-19 infections in the past month. As of January 30th, approximately 3,800 people in France had tested positive in the previous 24 hours for the coronavirus – which represents a decrease from the averages of 20,000 new cases per day about one month ago.