Shoe shopping and dog grooming: French town flouts lockdown rules

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PARIS (Reuters) - Some small shops and services, including a dog grooming salon, remained open on Saturday in a small town outside Paris with support from their local mayor, amid signs of sporadic pushback against a new coronavirus lockdown in France.

In Paris, mayor Anne Hidalgo also joined a growing wave of support for independent booksellers, saying in an interview published on Sunday that she would bring in local authorisations for them to remain open.

The French government put in place fresh restrictions on Friday to combat a resurgence in COVID-19 infections and hospitalisations, echoing a two-month shutdown earlier this year. This time, schools will remain open but all non-essential stores are supposed to close.

In the small town of Yerres, shops such as shoe-sellers remained open under a local edict.

"I think you're taking much less risk going to buy your book or your shoes or your clothes in a small shop where there aren't many people than in a big superstore," the mayor, Olivier Clodong, told Reuters, adding he found it unfair that hypermarkets, which sell food, could stay open.

Police paid a visit to grooming parlour in Yerres where a dog was being shampooed, but they did not issue an on the spot fine. Authorities have said they will be tolerant at the start of the lockdown, which began on Friday.

About 20 other mayors brought in similar measures in other parts of France on Saturday, TV network BFM TV said.

The revolt has particularly centered on booksellers.

"Along with other cities, we will take a joint initiative, following the one taken already in Dijon, to allow independent book stores to reopen," Paris mayor Hidalgo told the Journal du Dimanche (JDD) newspaper.

She also called on the government to allow museums to stay open, with rigorous sanitary protocols and caps on visitors.

A book store in Yerres, as well as many in central Paris, tried to remain open by operating 'click and collect' services that allow people to pick up books ordered online or on the phone at the door.

Also in an interview with the JDD, junior economy minister Olivier Dussopt said the government - which is rolling out support for businesses including reduced welfare bills and partial unemployment schemes - would stick to its plan to reassess the situation for retailers in two weeks' time.

"The edicts brought in by the mayors are illegal and they know it," Dussopt said.

(Reporting by Clotaire Achi and Johnny Cotton; Editing by Sarah White and Daniel Wallis)