French supermarkets will face the same limits on selling non-essential goods as small shops but shopowners are not allowed to challenge government lockdown rules, the finance minister said.
Small shopowners have complained bitterly about being forced to close while supermarkets are allowed to sell 'non-essential goods' such as shoes, clothes, beauty products and flowers because they also sell food.
Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Sunday supermarkets will have to stop selling non-essential goods, but shopkeepers - who have stocked up for Christmas and want to recover from the spring lockdown - want to remain open and mayors in several cities across France have backed them.
"Challenging the state with municipal decrees is irresponsible. One cannot challenge the state's authority and jeopardise the health of our compatriots," finance minister Bruno Le Maire said on RTL radio.
He added that once the rate of infection slows, the government may ease lockdown rules and allow some shops to open under certain conditions such as by making an appointment. A decision on that would be taken on 12 November, he said.
Meanwhile, supermarkets will face the same bans on selling non-essential products as small shops and will not be allowed to sell products such as shoes, clothing and flowers.
"What can be sold in supermarkets is what can be sold in small shops. Today a shop selling computer equipment can remain open because it is useful for home working, it will be the same in supermarkets. Hygiene products can be sold in supermarkets and pharmacies," he said.
He also said that overcrowding in supermarkets was unacceptable and that they would have to stick to the rule of a maximum of one person per four square metres, or 250 people in a 1,000 square metre supermarket.
"I demand that the number of people is checked at the entrance. If it appears that this limit is not sufficiently safe, we will tighten it," he said.