France: Construction work stops due to COVID-19

19 March 2020 12:56

According to the latest information from BWI’s French affiliates, there are currently 9,134 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 931 persons hospitalized and 264 deaths. Since Tuesday, 17 March, "non-essential" movements are prohibited until the end of the month. The French government is strictly enforcing its quarantine. Every time a person leaves home, a written certificate is required. Compliance with this measure is said to be monitored by the police, with 4,095 fines of 135 Euros recorded yesterday.

Photo: yuttana Contributor Studio/

In this context, the construction sector has called for a temporary work stoppage of all construction sites and the confinement of its workers. BWI affiliates reported that work has stopped beginning a few days ago. The Notre-Dame-de-Paris site, another major construction project, came to a halt on 17 March. It is the site of the Grand Paris Express – an 11 km of tunnel tracks and four stations - where Eiffage and Salini Impregilo are working in preparation for the 2024 Olympic Games. However, for companies such as Eiffage and Vinci, motorway activity continues. Eiffage has reportedly put several measures in place like rotating crews to change shifts without overlapping and proximity.

The BWI affiliates also reported that protective measures are not strictly implemented at construction sites, particularly, protective masks are not always used and social distancing is not duly observed. 

The government said that there will be no penalties for work delays in construction sites. It said that it will provide companies tax relief measures to defer without justification, formalities or penalties the payment of contributions and taxes due in March 2020. 

The government also said that it is setting up a solidarity fund of 1 Billion Euros to provide assistance to small companies with a turnover of less than 1 million Euros. The fund is to help companies which have lost 70 percent of their turnover between March 2019 and March 2020. For big companies, it is prepared to use all means necessary to keep them afloat, including nationalisation. 

Partial unemployment has also been facilitated. Workers will receive 84 percent of their net wages. However, unions demand that paid leave and hours of recovery of working time should not be impacted.

This morning, the labour minister criticized public works for stopping their activities. Many observed that the government is not willing to spend too much on partial unemployment benefits.