Angry French shopkeepers strip naked to protest forced closures

·1-min read

Shopkeepers in the northern French town of Boulogne-sur-Mer are stripping off in protest at having their small businesses shuttered during a new lockdown, while bigger retailers are still allowed to continue trading.

As part of a social media campaign to draw attention to this “total injustice”, some 30 shop owners responded to a call to have their naked bodies, from the waist up, photographed from behind.

Each person wore a hat bearing the name of their business. The pictures were then posted alongside the message “the state is stripping us naked”.

The call came from socialist town councillor Hélène Wasselin, who is also the manager of the Esquisse de Soi hairdressing and make-up salon.

She told AFP she was inundated with responses from "florists, food traders, clothing and shoe boutiques and hairdressers" all angry at being forced to shut up shop.

“Lockdown is something we do willingly, because we know that hospitals lack the means – but either we all confine ourselves, or we open everything, Wasselin argued.

Sales ban

In the name of fairness, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced that as of Tuesday products sold by small businesses, such as books, would no longer be available in larger stores, such as supermarkets.

France’s Federation of Commerce and Distribution was quick to oppose the move, saying it made little sense because it would complicate people’s lives without improving the health situation.

Instead, the body has asked the government to consider a gradual reopening of small shops.