Shopping malls shut, post services cut, markets next?

23 March 2020

Efforts to limit exposure to coronavirus have meant France has closed a wide range of commercial premises, including shopping malls and large outdoor shopping centres.

This came alongside the closure of “non-essential” shops, restaurants, bars and cafés, cinemas, libraries, museums and nightclubs.

Although food and fruit markets were still allowed to open, some, such as in Nice, have been closed. Health minister Olivier Véran said that where markets draw big crowds, they were likely to be closed.

In addition, fruit and veg was being touched by more than one set of hands and this brought in more danger.

Only 20% of the 7,700 La Poste offices were open on the second day of the lockdown and 80% of delivery staff came in to work. This could change if more staff went off either sick, to care for children, or for self-isolation reasons.

Post offices were all closed and deliveries stopped on Saturday March 21 to allow staff to rest but were due to reopen the following Monday. Offices are opening later, at 11.00, to allow organisation of staff. Customers can enter in limited numbers and while maintaining a 1m gap.

Customers receiving signed-for post no longer sign on the facteur’s smartphone, but send a text to La Poste.

Delivery staff fear contamination from both customers and packages, and there have been threats of walk-outs.

Only postal staff on the “watch” service for older people are issued with masks.

Advice from the World Health Organisation is that the virus can survive on some surfaces for several hours, although the probability of infection is low. Disinfection can be done with a bleach solution.

Food deliveries are continuing with the rule that there must be no physical contact between the cook, delivery person or client, and no taking of money at the door.

Delivery companies say that their work has changed.

It has gone from mostly takeaway deliveries to those of fresh food and supermarket stock, although medical personnel are still ordering in food as canteens close in hospitals.

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