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In some reconfigured towns, “non-essential” businesses are taking over the streets

REPORTAGEIn the 19 departments placed in semi-containment in the face of the Covid-19 epidemic, businesses deemed “non-essential” remain closed. However, they were authorized to open in certain communes of the coast of the Alpes-Maritimes, such as Antibes, Menton or Cannes, but on condition of settling in the street. This is also the case in certain cities in northern France, such as Dunkirk or Boulogne-sur-Mer.

On the sidewalk, in front of her clothing and accessories store in Cannes, Jessica Lefort has recreated the universe of her brand: a wardrobe with shirts on hangers and a table covered with colorful jewelry. Access to the interior of the store remains prohibited, but the authorization to encroach on the exterior is a godsend in this time of crisis. “We respect all the security measures, we are masked and there is freezing”, assures this trader to Europe 1. “People see animation and that allows me to maintain my trade. I do not make a profit. , it is only a question of being able to pay my rent and to work with dignity. “

“Why not in the streets?”

The measure was demanded by traders. “We said to ourselves that Cannes could be an open-air market since non-food activities are allowed on the markets. So why not in the streets of Cannes? It is essential to meet this demand from our traders. They’ve been in big trouble for several months, ”explains Mathilde Bernard, director of commerce at the municipality of Cannes.

The residents, for their part, are rather satisfied with this device. “It’s essential, otherwise, where are we going? It’s still a palliative to be able to come to town and see the sidewalks a little lively”, comments a Cannes woman. Annoyed by the initiative, the prefect of Alpes-Maritimes, however, asked the mayors concerned to put an end to these practices.

Few customers

On the side of Dunkirk and Boulogne-sur-Mer, the municipalities have taken a similar decree, also authorizing non-essential businesses to be sold in the street from this Saturday until April 17. In Dunkirk, there are clothes racks with clothes on the sidewalk, outside changing rooms. Marie and Joséphine hold in their hands their first clothes for this summer, “a tunic and a blouse”: “It’s very very non-essential, very useless, but it’s nice. We feel alive. We need to be alive. change ideas too. It’s part of our life. Shopping on the internet is fine for five minutes, but we need contacts. ”

It is still necessary to respect the distances, leaving a corridor of one meter to circulate. Boulevard Alexandre III, in the port city, there are a few independent shops open, but not many. If you have three or four customers, you can’t complain, “says Julie, who runs a women’s ready-to-wear boutique.” Now, let’s face it: the conditions are not great at all. Most of these traders do not know if they will remain open for the next few weeks.There is fear that the order taken by the mayor will be challenged by the prefecture.

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