French PM announces ban on sale of ‘non-essential’ items in supermarkets

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France is to introduce a ban on the sale of all 'non-essential' items in supermarkets from Tuesday, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced in a televised interview Sunday on TF1, under measures already imposed by a nationwide lockdown to stem the coronavirus.

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Non-essential items banned from sale in small local shops will now also be banned in supermarkets from Tuesday, the PM said.

In his interview with TFI, Castex said the decision to impose tough restrictions was “heartbreaking” and that he promised to support businesses impacted so "they are not forced to close down".

"We will not go back over the announced measures. It's definitely not the right time. It's way too soon. There will not be reopenings and all business owners and the rest of us have to be extremely vigilant and respect the lockdown.

"I say to these shopkeepers and to others – to all our citizens – it’s better to respect these health and safety rules now so that we can get out of this [lockdown] sooner,” he said.

France entered its second lockdown on Friday in a bid to stem the resurgent coronavirus pandemic with residents only allowed to leave their homes for food shopping, medical appointments, pressing family reasons and to commute to work when their jobs cannot be done from home.

Covid-19 daily deaths in France are at the highest level since April. On Sunday, 46,290 new cases were recorded over the past 24 hours with over 1.4 million cases overall.

Castex said he understood that the French are "frustrated” by further restrictions but that right now the priority was to protect the health of all citizens.

"It is for the survival of the economy, it is for our collective health," he insisted.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)