Now in its second week of the dreaded nationwide shutdown, France is still reeling from the devastating effects the first raft of measures had on businesses in spring. Owners of small and medium-sized firms have warned they will bear the brunt of the winter lockdown and have fiercely revolted against the new set of rules.

French MEP and former transport secretary Thierry Mariani said Mr Macron had been “incoherent” in how he had dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Mariani questioned the fairness of the nationwide rules when supermarket giants were permitted to keep their doors open while some small shops had been forced to shut.

He tweeted: “Lockdown: The French are ready to respect what is asked of them if that makes sense.

“Banning the opening of small businesses is totally absurd and unfair because it is easier to respect barrier gestures.

“Once again this government is incoherent!

“Why would you let big stores open, but not small shops? What’s the logic?”

He went on to accuse Mr Macron’s centrist government of “killing the economy”.

He added: “Small businesses struggle to remain open in front of big stores and now the government is going against them. And the aid they receive is not enough.”

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Owners of businesses deemed “non-essential” by Mr Macron’s government have been leading the rebellion.

Observers have drawn comparisons between their movement and the “yellow vests” almost a year after the protesters first took to the streets of French cities demanding better living conditions for the working class.

The revolt of small traders shows the fear of not surviving the second wave of coronavirus.

And their anger at unfair competition, with supermarkets and essential stores remaining open, shows they are not willing to take Mr Macron’s rules lying down.

Fnac, a large French retail chain, has been allowed to remain open due to the fact it sells computers, which are essential for people working from home.

But smaller bookstores have railed against this decision, saying it is not fair the giant can continue to sell books while they are forced to close.

In response, the Ministry of the Economy asked Fnac, as well as all major retailers, to close their bookshelves.

However, small bookstores have warned customers will now flock to Amazon as a result.

On Thursday France reported 363 new deaths from coronavirus, bringing the country’s overall total to 39,037.

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.



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