Famed Paris store Galeries Lafayette to reopen

A man rides his bicycle across an empty street in front of the Galeries Lafayette store in . — AFP pic
A man rides his bicycle across an empty street in front of the Galeries Lafayette store in . — AFP pic

PARIS, May 30 — Paris’s famed Galeries Lafayette department store, which receives some 37 million visitors every year — many of them tourists — will reopen this weekend after being shuttered for nearly three months by the coronavirus pandemic, it said Friday.

Closed along with most other retailers since mid-March, the massive store on Boulevard Haussmann in central Paris will throw its doors open from 11.00am today (5pm Malaysian Time).

France started emerging from two-months of lockdown on May 11, although the larger Paris region remains in an “orange” zone of high coronavirus vigilance and has been slower to return to business as usual.

The Covid-19 epidemic has killed over 28,000 people in France, the world’s fourth-highest reported toll.

Inaugurated in 1912, the Galeries Lafayette Haussmann claims on its website to be Europe’s biggest retailer in terms of sales, with nearly 40 million clients annually.

Even as the lockdown was partially lifted in France, shops with more than 40,000 square metres (430,000 square feet) of floor space were forbidden to open before July 10 due to the continued threat posed by the virus.

This was challenged by Galeries Lafayette and rival luxury store Printemps, which reopened Thursday after a favourable court ruling.

In the case of Galeries Lafayette, permission came from the police department in Paris.

The store said it would require strict observation of sanitary rules, including obligatory face masks for clients and staff, and will limit the number of people who can enter at one time.

It will take some time for sales numbers to return to pre-coronavirus levels, given the lack of foreign shoppers as international travel remains largely shut down. — AFP-Relaxnews

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