France has been in lockdown since March 17 to stem the spread of the coronavirus. Now, in advance of the reopening of nonessential businesses next Monday, the government has made a series of recommendations outlining basic good practices.
While further directives are anticipated this week, retailers large and small have released their own plans to address the process.
Galeries Lafayette Group CEO Nicolas Houzé said in an interview that his stores will ensure hand sanitizer is readily available, adding that masks will be required for employees and customers alike.
The retailer also is installing plexiglass in front of cash registers — which is already the case in many local supermarkets. The group will close off a number of cash registers and is drawing up routes through its stores to maintain necessary distances. He noted that he will likely also reduce opening hours given constraints of public transport and worker availability. Discussions with unions are ongoing.
The executive estimated that the group could have lost as much as a billion euros during confinement.
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Sports retailers such as Intersport and Decathlon have been offering a drive-through click and collect service during confinement — where orders made online are directly deposited into the trunks of consumers’ cars. The service is set to continue after the May 11 reopening.
Repetto CEO Jean-Marc Gaucher shared his plans with for stores in Paris and Lyon. He will start reopening with half of the staff, who will work alternate days.
Masks will be mandated for clients and employees alike. Staff must take their temperatures at the start and end of every day — and wash their hands every 15 minutes. There will be hand sanitizer available at the door, he said, and even clients will have their temperatures monitored prior to entering.
He also addressed the issue of trying on shoes and garments. “Products that have been tried on will be removed from the shop floor for 24 hours,” the CEO said.
Smaller concerns such as independent shoe label Amelie Pichard will operate an appointment-only service at first. “It will make the customer feel safer,” the designer told FN, adding that the idea was logical because customers must normally ring a bell in order to enter her store. She also admitted that this system is a way to avoid having to resume the financial obligations that come with a full reopening.
“Once we reopen properly we will have the start paying the rent again,” Pichard said. Some rents have been deferred during confinement and smaller businesses cannot afford to recommence repayments until they can generate enough income.
French Government: Rules of Engagement
Keep Your Distance
A 43 square-foot radius per person is recommended. However, it will be left up to individual retailers to apply rules as they see fit, according to risk assessment and in conjunction with other safety measures.
Personal Protective Equipment
To be viewed as a complement to barriers. If compliance of a physical distance of 10 feet between two people cannot be guaranteed, wearing a mask becomes mandatory.
Should be avoided as they are considered to give a false sense of security and may in themselves be a vector for transmitting the virus.
Protocol for Symptomatic Person
This is up to individual businesses. Recommended measures include quickly isolating people in a dedicated room or asking them to return home and contact their doctor.
A temperature control at the entrance of establishments is not recommended. Instead, everyone should measure their temperature themselves in the event of a fever. However businesses are at liberty to take the temperatures of those entering their site.
Recommendations include regular disinfection of surfaces and objects that are frequently touched, daily cleaning of floors and regular ventilation of closed rooms every three hours for 15 minutes. — With contributions by Mimosa Spencer