Bookshops in France now classed as essential businesses

It means they can stay open in case new lockdown measures are introduced, such as in the case of Alpes-Maritimes and Dunkirk

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Bookshops have now been added to the list of businesses deemed essential and will be able to remain open in the event of a lockdown, a decree published yesterday (February 26) states.

For the next two weekends, lockdowns will be in place in the coastal communes in the Alpes-Maritimes, including Nice and Cannes, and in Dunkirk and its surrounding area. Bookshops there will be permitted to remain open under the new ruling.

Forms and rules for Dunkirk and Riviera weekend lockdowns

During the second national lockdown in France, November to December, bookshops were closed to the public and could only operate through click and collect services.

This decision was heavily criticised by the literary community in France and a petition was launched demanding they be reopened.

"Since theatres and cinemas are closed, bookshops are the last place where you can have access to culture,” Anne Martelle, president of the bookshop union Syndicat de la librairie française, said in an interview with France 24 on October 30, 2020.

French bookshops inspire support through lockdown closure

The decision to close the bookshops led the government to also close book sections in shopping centres as a balance, a move that was ridiculed on social media.

The new ruling comes as the government considers introducing stricter measures in 20 communes, to try to stem the spread of Covid-19.

Map: The 20 French departments at risk of extra Covid rules

Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot has welcomed the decision.

"Bookstores are essential businesses. There has never been any doubt about that,” she told news agency AFP.

A full list of businesses deemed essential or non-essential can be found here.

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