Lockdown fatigue

Nice, French Riviera towns rail against weekend lockdown

Police patrolled in Nice throughout the weekend.
Police patrolled in Nice throughout the weekend. AFP - VALERY HACHE

While Paris awaits a decision on whether another lockdown will be introduced to stem the rapid spread of Covid-19 variants, Dunkirk, Nice and other towns on the French Riviera tested the first of two weekend confinements. Shopkeepers in Nice took the brunt of it.

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Local and national authorities began a week of consultations on Monday on the shape new anti-Covid restrictions will take.

In anticipation of a possible three-week lockdown, favoured by Paris City Hall, Parisiens made the most of the early Spring sun on Sunday and headed out to parks and banks of the Seine in big numbers.

It was an altogether different picture in the southern city of Nice which along with Dunkirk in the north and some 62 Riviera towns went into lockdown for the weekend.

Beaches were closed, and all trips outside the home were banned other than for essential reasons such as food shopping, medical appointments and walking the dog and each required an official permission form.

In Nice, shops larger than 5,000 square metres were closed, but even the smaller ones authorised to open took a hit.

“There’s no one,” Marilou, owner of an olive and spice shop in the old town, told RFI. “We’re closing."

Another shopkeeper, Céline, cleaned the front of her grocery shop while waiting for an all too rare customer. She blamed the lack of trade on lack of clarity over the restrictions.

“The permission form allows you to shop for basic foodstuffs, but it isn’t clear,” she said. “I don’t think people have understood that it doesn't limit the time you can go out or distance you can go to do your food shopping.”

In effect, while trips outside the home for exercise are allowed for up to an hour, food shopping is not limited.

La promenade des Anglais à Nice est restée fermée tout le week-end. Samedi 27 février 2021.
La promenade des Anglais à Nice est restée fermée tout le week-end. Samedi 27 février 2021. REUTERS - ERIC GAILLARD

On Sunday morning the picturesque Saleya market would usually be buzzing with activity.

“It’s deserted,” lamented Isabelle Pena in front of her fruit and vegetable stall. “We paid attention, reduced our stock, but we weren’t expecting them to close the Promenade des Anglais. You can walk on one side of the pavement, but not on the other. It’s scandalous."

Another stall holder, Nathalie Travia, questioned whether it was worth even trying to open next weekend. “There are usually three of us manning the stall on a Sunday morning. But I’m on my own, we’ve not had a single customer. I’m not sure it’s worth putting up the stall next weekend.”

 

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