France orders closure of all non-essential commerce to curb Covid-19 surge

French garden centre in Berck sur Mer.

PARIS, France: Garden centres and florists in France face another blow after the government has forced them to shut just three days ahead of la Toussaint, a two-day holiday when flowers have an essential role to play.

President Emmanuel Marcon announced in an TV address to the nation yesterday evening (28 October) that, “We are overwhelmed by a second wave which we know will arguably be more difficult and deadly.”

The French leader imposed five weeks of stricter measures to curb a surge in Covid-19 cases, which French health authorities say is spiralling out of control.

The French will once again need an attestation, a signed document downloaded from the internet to leave home to do their essential shopping, seek medical attention , or use their daily one hour allocation of exercise.

The new measures will come into force this Friday and will last until 1 December. Unlike the country’s first lockdown (between 16 March and 11 May 2020) schools will remain open. Non-essential services, however, will for the second time this year shut their doors and this includes garden centres and florists.

Once again the country sees its restaurants, cinemas and high streets emptying and again the media brings tragic stories.

French horticulture too has had its fair share of loss and sacrifice. The second lockdown could not have come at a worse possible time. While the first lockdown in Spring saw millions of bedding plants and Mother’s Day flowers being composted, this time the severe restrictions to curb the coronavirus come just three days ahead of what the French call la Toussaint.

This two-day holiday on 1 and 2 November is also referred to as All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. It is the moment of the year ten thousands of people express love for their missing loved ones by bringing masses of flowers and plants when visiting the cemeteries.

A recent study by French industry body Val’Hor finds that for the occasion of la Toussaint 25 percent of French buy flowers and plants worth a total of €186 million.

In a country where until 28 October the Coronavirus alone has taken the life of 35,541 compatriotes, this weekend ten thousands of people will feel the pain of not being able to pay duly respect to the deceased ones on these special days. Not only because they cannot buy their floral tribute, but simply because they are not allowed to go out, at a time where most gates of cemeteries will be closed anyway.

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