The French government will this week lay out new protocols that will allow more people to return to work, including abolishing the recommendation that everyone should work from home if possible.
As France has gradually reopened, government advice has remained the same as it was at the height of the lockdown – that people who can work from home should continue to do so if possible.
The recommendation was intended to avoid large numbers of people in workplaces, as well as easing crowding on public transport at peak times in cities.
But now a new protocol, set to be published in its final form later in the week, scraps this recommendation.
The join Health Ministry and Labour Ministry document suggests;
- Scrapping the recommendation that people work from home, although this will still be possible if employers and employees come to an agreement. The government suggests that employers look favourably upon requests to workers to continue working remotely, if this is possible
- Cutting the space requirement from 4m sq per employee to 1m sq, mirroring the changes already introduced in schools. This would mean that most businesses could have all their employees in the workplace at the same time without falling fall of the restrictions
- Masks will only be recommended for workplaces if distance rules cannot be complied with. Some workers in public-facing roles – such as waiters and shop assistants – would continue to wear masks
- Hand washing facilities and hand gel to be made available to all employees
- Gloves are not recommended
- Each company must appoint a 'Covid delegate' to be responsible for hygiene regulations
- In large workplaces, one-way system should be set up to avoid employees crossing paths too often
While keen for France to reopen as much as possible, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has also urged caution, telling French media: “Our interest is not the short term, but the long term. If tomorrow a relaxation led to the appearance of a cluster in a restaurant, for example, we would lose all the benefit of what has been done so far.”
For employees who fall into high-risk groups for Covid-19 there are extra protections in place.