Looking back on France’s year against Covid-19

With the number of people infected with Covid-19 increasing rapidly, the French government introduced a 15-day distance measure, starting from March 14, 2020. French President Emmanuel Macron declared on television: “Nous sommes en guerre” (rough translation: We are in a time of war).

All restaurants, non-essential services such as selling clothes, bookstores, cinemas, etc. must close. On the contrary, supermarkets or grocery stores that need to be used for daily life are operating. People are allowed to move within 1 km, if they exceed it, they must have a special permit stating what the destination is for.

At first, because of a shortage of masks, the government announced that masks were not needed when going out, only wearing them when entering public places. There are many people who are afraid, inventing enough ways to protect themselves.

People were bewildered and queued up to buy food, and even toilet paper ran out. The French government quickly reassured people with a commitment to have no shortage of goods and ensure nationwide circulation to avoid social and economic imbalances as well as not affect epidemic prevention.

Looking back at France's year against Covid-19 - Photo 1.

French President Emmanuel Macron chats with students at Bouge Primary School in Marseille on September 2 on the occasion of the start of the new school year Photo: REUTERS

The government’s measure is to keep wholesale markets open, allowing small businesses to buy goods provided that buyers present their license papers and test negative within 48 hours. Supermarkets have their own distribution networks.

During the nationwide quarantine period, the banking system operates normally and the currency is not interrupted. Buying and selling activities often use ATM cards because buyers and sellers are afraid that touching cash can spread disease.

From last year to now, the French government has locked down the whole country for 2 times, accompanied by curfew periods, measures to limit socio-economic – cultural activities, social distancing, etc. tracing infections, mass screening testing.

In a state of panic, production slowed, workers lost their jobs and many companies went bankrupt – all leading to a severe economic downturn. Daily consumption decreased, proving that if people could not buy and sell goods, the national economy would come to a standstill.

Non-consumable goods mean that trade between countries is stalled, leading to a shock that spreads across the entire global production chain.

To avoid stalemate in people’s lives in particular and the economy in general, the French government has issued many resolutions to support businesses, including: extending payments for social and/or tax payments. , direct tax exemption, rent payment support, solidarity fund to support unemployed workers, support for fixed costs of the company, loan guarantee by the state, interest structure on bank loans goods, implement the partial unemployment regime.

Looking back at France's year against Covid-19 - Photo 2.

A Covid-19 rapid test tent on the Champs-Elysees, near the Arc de Triomphe, in Paris Photo: REUTERS

President Macron pledged to prevent corporate bankruptcies and mass layoffs. This is the reason why a number of measures were taken on March 25, 2020 to support companies to resume operations even though people are still insecure because of the epidemic.

Most of these measures involve postponing rather than canceling social and financial liabilities, with the aim of helping companies weather immediate stress.

Despite the government’s drastic measures to prevent a recession, France’s GDP in 2020 decreased by 8% (data of the French Institute of Statistics and Economic Research – INSEE), while Vietnam’s GDP in 2020 increased by 2, 91% (data from the General Statistics Office of Vietnam).

Also in 2020, France has an additional 1 million jobless people, about 700,000 graduates are at risk of unemployment while the state budget is dwindling and Covid-19 is still lurking to re-emerge.

The epidemic has destroyed all efforts of France in rebalancing health insurance funds, unemployment benefits or pension funds… Although the government has continuously used many rescue measures, according to the data of The French Finance Ministry, Covid-19 has dug 30 billion euros more into the health insurance fund and it is not known when that deficit will be filled.

(To be continued)

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