French businesses have been lined up for 11 billion euros worth of loans as part of the government’s plan to help the crippled economy recover from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
The cash – to be made available from early May – will be in the form of loans backed by 18 insurances companies as well as the government that can be paid off over eight years, including a four-year grace period.
"These are very long-term loans…so it's very interesting for companies and it shows that a whole part of the French economy is starting up again.”
When he announced the early closure of the nation’s schools for the Easter holidays, President Emmanuel Macron promised a phased end to the Covid confinement, including the reopening of cafe and restaurant terraces and some cultural venues, from the middle of May.
Last Thursday, his administration came under pressure to ditch that proposal. The main trade federations and an array of industry bosses called for all shops to reopen on 10 May.
During his interview, Le Maire reiterated Macron’s position of 17 May for an easing of the rules to reopen businesses.
Not yet back to business
As planned on Monday, children up to the age of 11 went back to their classrooms following a three-week break.
Older pupils will return to their sites on 3 May after a week of lessons via computers.
Employees at thousands of firms throughout the country should be able to follow suit in a fortnight when the third national lockdown begins lifting.
"We have not offered all this help to businesses over the past 14 months to save jobs only to lose it all in the next three weeks by rushing," Le Maire said.