Policy responses for France - HSRM


Policy responses for France

6. Measures in other sectors

6.1 Measures in other sectors

Many MEASURES IN OTHER SECTORS beyond the immediate scope of the health system are being taken to prevent further spread of the virus. This section contains information on many of these areas, including border and travel restrictions and economic and fiscal measures, among others.

Borders with EU countries re-opened on June 15. The second largest French airport (Orly airport) will re-open on June 26. From July 1, it will be possible to travel to non-EU countries where the epidemic is under control. A first list of 15 countries where air travels with France will be allowed was issued in coordination with other European countries, supposedly based on objective epidemiological data such as the number of new cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 inhabitants. This list will be updated every fortnight. It currently includes Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Morocco, New-Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay and China (under confirmation of reciprocity conditions).
Measures which eased the conditions to receive a short-time or partial unemployment allowance (automatic upon request by firms) are extended until the beginning of June.

For businesses within the tourism industry, as well as for bars and restaurants, partial unemployment coverage measures will be extended until at least September 2020, while for those working in show business (‘intermittents du spectacle’), their rights to financial aid will be extended up to August 2021.

The president announced a specific recovery plan for the car industry, which plays an important part in the French economy (including financial aids for households and companies buying new cars, an investment plan to facilitate the modernization and ecological transition, and the extension of partial unemployment coverage in this sector).

On June 14, the president announced that the economic crisis would not be funded through more contributions from tax payers, and that negotiations with trade unions and employers would be carried out to save as many jobs as possible. Further details on the economic strategy may be announced in the next speech from the president, which is expected early July.

Following the large number of protective masks thrown in the streets, the Minister in charge of ecological transition has announced that this will be fined with €135.

On September 3, the government announced an economic recovery plan of €100 billion (“France relance”) which aims at reaching again the level of economic growth of 2019 by the end of 2022 and strongly focuses on guaranteeing employment. Measures are organized around three main pillars: ecological transition, industrial relocation and social and territorial cohesion. The cultural sector will also benefit from a financial aid reaching €2 billion.
Following concerns about unemployment in the younger populations linked to the sanitary crisis, the Minister in charge of employment has announced at the end of July a dedicated plan of €6.5 billion. This plan notably includes a financial aid of €4,000 given to companies for each new recruitment of at least three months of a young aged 16 to 25 between August 2020 and January 2021. Since February 1, 2021, students can also obtain three free consultations with psychologists or psychiatrists upon presentation of their student card. There is a rising concern regarding the consequences of the crisis on youth mental health.
On October 14, the president announced that beneficiaries of welfare services (in particular young people and beneficiaries of the active solidarity income) will benefit from an exceptional financial aid of €150, and an additional €100 per child, for the next six weeks.

Following the implementation of a new lock-down, the focus was put on maintaining the economy through on-going professional activity, but affected sectors will benefit from large partial unemployment coverage and tax deductions, similarly to the first lock-down.

At the end of January 2021, travels between France and non-EU countries were suspended.

Travel restrictions
Foreign passengers are not allowed to enter France with the exemptions of the Schengen area and the United Kingdom. The passengers can travel only if they can certify that they have health, work or personal stringent needs. There are no restrictions for road and freight transport, but the government asked SNCF (National Train Company) to reduce significantly the number of trains, especially over the Easter holidays, in order to discourage people to travel.

The president announced that even after the easing of the lock-down policy on May 11, borders with non-European countries will remain closed. 

Economic measures
With the announcement of home confinement, President Macron assured quickly that the government will set a plan to support the French economy, especially small-medium enterprises as well as employment. The Finance Minister announced on the 13th of March that the plan could cost several dozens of billions. Measures include eased conditions to receive a short-time or partial unemployment allowance (automatic upon request by firms), the cost of which will be entirely supported by the State (70% of gross wages will be ensured). On April 13, the president announced that these measures will be extended, and that further measures will be planned in the next 15 days to help those in economic difficulty because of lock-down.

The government will also create compensation funds by sector to support small/medium enterprises which have stopped their activity, such as restaurants, hairdressers, etc. These measures will remain at least until the end of May, even for those businesses that were allowed to re-open by May 11. Any business with a turnover of less than €1 million, will be compensated for their income loss with a ceiling of €800 a day. They are also exempt from paying their rent during the confinement period. The government further announced several measures to ease the short-term tax burden. Firms will be allowed to delay and spread their payments of social and fiscal charges. Moreover, small enterprises facing difficulties with treasury loans will be supported by the Public Investment Bank (Banque Publique d'Investissement). On April 13, the president announced that a specific economic plan will be issued for particularly affected sectors such as tourism or the entertainment industry.

On April 17, the National Assembly voted a new crisis budget, in the frame of the €110 billion plan (nearly 5% of the GDP) announced by the government to support the economy during the Covid-19 epidemic. This new budget adds EUR 2 billion dedicated funding to increase partial unemployment coverage (including from May 1 those who were previously on sick leave to take care of their children or because they were considered vulnerable to the virus) and bonuses for healthcare professionals and civil servants as well as to buy masks and support the most deprived households (4 million households will receive a financial aid by May 15). This adds to an existing package of bank loan guarantees and credit reinsurance schemes of €315 billion.

The Ministry of Budget announced a loan of EUR 7 billion to save the main French airline (Air France), which will be conditional to the compliance with some environmental efforts.

It is also announced that private companies which donate medical materials for health professionals, hospitals or nursing homes will, in exchange, benefit from a tax reduction.

During confinement, all of the schools are asked to put in place online education programs, and the Ministry of Education provided tools and guidelines to facilitate this process.

An exceptional financial aid of €200 will be given to 800,000 young adults under 25, in particular students who lost their jobs or internships as a result of the lock-down measures or isolated students from French overseas territories who were not able to go home to their family. A national plan to support young people facing difficulties is also expected during the summer.

There is little information on the situation in prisons, but all visits have been suspended during the lock-down period. They are expected to start again after May 11. The conditions are quite challenging in many already over-crowded institutions where hygienic circumstances were already difficult.