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More than 10 million employees in France — one out of every two in the private sector — have been laid off during the coronavirus lockdown and are now benefiting from an extended indemnity programme to weather the crisis, the government said Wednesday.
"Today in France there are 10.2 million employees whose salaries are being paid by the state," Labour Minister Muriel Penicaud told BFM television.
Around 820,000 employers, or more than six in ten, have applied for a social security programme that grants 84 percent of net pay for workers temporarily laid off because of a drop in business, a number that is increasing "day after day,"" she said.
"It's a considerable number, we've never done anything like it in our country," she said.
President Emmanuel Macron vowed that "no company would be abandoned to the risk of bankruptcy" when announcing the widespread business closures and stay-at-home orders implemented on March 17.
His government last week raised its economic relief package to 110 billion euros ($120 billion) and extended the temporary layoffs programme to individuals who employ nannies or cleaners who can no longer come to work.
Penicaud said entire sectors of the economy have effectively been shut down, with nine out of ten workers in hotels and restaurants as well as in construction now unemployed.