France to lose ‘one million jobs’ due to coronavirus crisis

France will likely lose "nearly one million" jobs this year, the Bank of France said on Tuesday, as it predicted that the coronavirus pandemic would see the economy shrink by about 10 percent in the same period.

France to lose 'one million jobs' due to coronavirus crisis
Restaurants are among businesses suffering badly from the lockdown. Photo: AFP

Unemployment will likely pass 11.5 percent in mid-2021, the central bank said, adding that the economy will only recover to pre-crisis levels by mid-2022.

The forecasts are in line with the government's forecast of an 11 percent GDP contraction this year as the country braces for its worse recession since World War II.

Hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, France imposed a nationwide, strict lockdown from mid-March to mid-May, bringing the country's economy to a virtual standstill for two months.


The lockdown had a crushing impact on the national economy, with especially dire consequences for small businesses and self-employed. 

Over-represented in sectors such as the hospitality and hotel industries, they largely depend on people being allowed to leave their homes and travel. 

READ ALSO: The battle in France to save the livelihoods of the self-employed

As the economic wheels have begun turning again, sectors like tourism and restaurant businesses will see a difficult season ahead as many health restrictions remain in place to avoid a resurgence of the number of coronavirus cases.

France's economy shrank 5.3 percent in the first three months of the year, and statistics office Insee has said the contraction could reach 20 percent in the second quarter.

After a slump in output of 15 percent in the three months to June, a “progressive” recovery of the national economy should be seen from the third quarter this year, according to the central bank.

The economy should then expand seven percent in 2021, gaining another four percent in 2022, it said.

“The French economy is recovering quite quickly, (..) but we are far from out of the woods,” François Villeroy de Galhau, governor of the Bank of France, told France Info.


The outlook remains dependent on many uncertainties, the bank said in its report, and the trade-off between savings and spending will be crucial for the future.
“It is likely that the expected increase in unemployment and the highly uncertain global context will continue to weigh on consumer confidence,” it said.
As a result, household savings could surge by 22 percent this year while household spending – a key driver of the economy – could fall 9.3 percent, it said.
The outlook also depends on that France not entering another round of lockdown, which would harm the country's economy further.

While France has identified 150 coronavirus clusters since it began to ease the lockdown on May 11th, the government's special advisory body has said a new round of nationwide lockdown would be “unlikely” even in the event of a second wave of infections.

READ: No return to lockdown in France, even if there is a second wave, says head of Scientific Council

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Return of the health pass? How France plans to tackle new wave of Covid cases

With a sharp rise in reported cases in recent weeks, France appears to be in the middle of a new wave of Covid infections - so what measures are the government taking to control it?

Return of the health pass? How France plans to tackle new wave of Covid cases

Recorded case numbers in France are now over 50,000 a week, and have been since the beginning of June – this is a long way short of the 350,000 weekly cases recorded in January but still the highest since May and representing a steady an increase of 57 percent on the previous week.

Hospital admissions are also on the rise – standing at 707 admissions on Friday, June 24th compared to 400 daily admissions just two weeks earlier.

So what is the French government doing about it?

Since March, almost all Covid-related restrictions have been lifted in France – the health pass is no longer required for everyday activities such as visiting a bar or going to the gym and face masks are now merely advised in all indoor locations. Only hospitals and other health establishments such as nursing homes still have mandatory rules on face masks and health passes.

For international travel, fully vaccinated arrivals from most countries – including the UK, US and the whole of the EU – need only to show proof of vaccination, while unvaccinated travellers need to show proof of a recent negative Covid test – full details HERE.

Health pass

A proposed bill from the health ministry that was leaked to French media talks about re-imposing some form of pass sanitaire (health pass) to get numbers under control.

Some caveats to add here is that the document is only a proposal at this stage and the government has explicitly rules out – for the moment – reintroducing the vaccine pass. The health pass can be used to show either proof of vaccination or a recent negative Covid test, so it is less restrictive for the unvaccinated.

The document suggests re-introducing a health pass for travel – both to and from France – not for everyday activities like going to a café.

Testing and contact tracing

The bill also proposes extending the software involved in contact tracing and the Covid testing programme until March 2023, although this is described as a ‘precaution’.

Testing remains available on a walk-in basis at most French pharmacies and by appointment at health centres and medical labs. Tests are free for fully-vaccinated residents of France who have a carte vitale. Those are only visiting France, who are not registered in the French health system or who are not vaccinated have to pay – prices are capped at €22 for an antigen test and €54 for a PCR test.

READ ALSO How tourists in France can get a Covid test


The government’s Covid vaccine adviser Alain Fischer told France Info that he was in favour of making face masks compulsory on public transport again and said it is ‘being discussed” at government level.

At present masks are not required, but are recommended, especially on busy services where it is impossible to practice social distancing.

Epidemiologist Pascal Crépey said: “In crowded trains, the risk of being in the presence of infected people is high. It would be a good idea for the population to wear the mask, to protect especially the most fragile and avoid massive infection rates.”

Local measures

French local authorities also have the power to impose certain types of restrictions if their area has a particularly high rate of infections.

At present, none have done so, but Nice mayor Christian Estrosi has spoken in favour of possibly bringing back the vaccine pass over the summer.

Second booster shots

A second booster shot of the Covid vaccine is now available to all over 60s and anyone who has a long-term medical condition or who is otherwise at risk from Covid.

It is recommended that the government increase public messaging advising those in high risk groups to get the second booster shot. The medical regular HAS has advised combining second booster shots with the seasonal flu vaccine campaign in September and October.

France is not, at present, considering widening the campaign to the entire popular, but the EU’s vaccine commissioner Thierry Breton says that if necessary, there would be enough doses to cover the whole population.