Similar to Moroccans before Eid Al Fitr, French citizens fear for the upcoming family holiday.
Rabat – In the midst of a second wave of COVID-19 infections, France hopes to stop the virus before Christmas on December 25. Moroccans will remember the trepidation the French are feeling as an important religious holiday approaches.
Similar to the months ahead of Eid Al Fitr, families in France are now fearing for their annual religious festivities amid a COVID-19 crisis.
Christmas in jeopardy
French government spokesman Gabriel Attal said on Sunday that everything is being done to ensure Christmas can be celebrated “as normally as possible.” He stressed that the government does not want “a Christmas via video.”
In order to prepare France for the holidays, the government will schedule a COVID-19 review in mid-November to determine the success of its second national lockdown.
On September 28, France’s Minister of Health Olivier Veran stated that France should not have a “pre-emptive” COVID-19 lockdown to “save Christmas.”
The idea of a pre-emptive COVID-19 lockdown, across France, lasting from December 1 until December 20 was proposed by Nobel Prize-winning, married professors Banerjee and Duflo in Le Monde.
“Family gatherings, with their long moments of socialising around a table (not to mention singing), are unfortunately conducive to contamination,” professors Banerjee and Duflo said.
The holiday of Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus, whom Christians believe is the son of God. The day has become more than a religious festival, evolving into a beloved day for family gatherings for both believers and non-believers. France now aims to ensure current COVID-19 measures reach their desired goals before announcing changes.
The government’s announcement comes during a weekend when France passed a sad milestone in its COVID-19 epidemic. France has recorded 40,169 COVID-19 deaths out of a total of 1.75 million cases so far. The country has recorded 620,778 new cases since October 24, with daily cases in the tens of thousands.
“The second wave has arrived here brutally, violently,” Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Twitter. Worryingly, 87% of France’s intensive-care units are now occupied by COVID-19 patients, despite an increase in capacity since April.
For several days in a row now the country has registered record numbers of new infections. France saw 87,000 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday alone. The devastating numbers prompted the government to institute a second national lockdown in an effort to contain the spread of the virus.
The second national lockdown comes before an important month for French retailers.
Four federations of brick-and-mortar retailers have called on the government to ban the shopping bonanza “Black Friday.” They have called for restrictions on online sales as well, asking to limit sales to basic necessities only. They have requested for non-essential businesses to reopen on November 12.
Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire told French daily Le Figaro that such a reopening would depend on the government’s “new health rules.”
The month before Christmas is a busy shopping month in France and Europe as a whole. Christmas is typically a day when families exchange gifts and retailers normally see a large spike in online and in-person retail sales. With France in a COVID-19 lockdown, it appears that brick-and-mortar retailers are afraid that customers will exclusively use online stores.
The retail industry and France as a whole are entirely dependent on the epidemiological situation surrounding COVID-19. Minister of Health Olivier Veran indicated on Sunday that the first-minute impacts of the lockdown are becoming visible. He tempered hopes, however, warning that it is too early for the government to draw any conclusions.