To get things rolling again after the 2-month lockdown because of the coronavirus, the city of Carcassonne is in the midst of implementing a 7-point plan that covers much of the activity in town. Schools reopened last month although parents initially had the option of keeping their children at home and using a multitude of online resources to continue their education. That’s an important consideration since those same parents who are able to work from home are encouraged to do so. City Hall is again welcoming guests and all other public services should be back in place by the end of June. Associations, that already play a vital role in the daily lives of citizens and were especially helpful during the pandemic, will receive additional support. One initiative that caught our eye is aimed at getting people back into the small shops that line the streets both up in the walled Cité and down in the main town where we live. All this past week (and into next) it’s been possible to use half-price vouchers in all of those stores.
The poster above from the city’s website promotes this half-off event that continues through Tuesday. You could buy a voucher for 10€ that you use in the shop of your choice for 20€ of merchandise. Although the government has provided some direct assistance to businesses that have suffered greatly during the health crisis, this was a nice way of involving both vendors and customers in the recovery. Parking for shoppers is now free through the summer, both outdoor and indoor market stall rents have been suspended, and fees that restaurants would normally pay to use public spaces for their outdoor tables have been eliminated through the main tourist season. These new incentives fit well with a program that was already in place to encourage new businesses. Free use of empty storefronts, reduced fees and taxes, and even business advice are available to entrepreneurs who want to try out a new idea. Some of those adventurers are pictured here.
But it’s not all about businesses—it’s people too. Since many families will probably be taking stay-cations this summer, an enlarged program of activities for children and young people is planned. Although the huge annual summer music festival plus the July 14 fireworks display over the Cité (that alone attracts 700,000 people) had to be canceled, a scaled-down version of the concert program has been arranged. During the lockdown, special care was given to the disabled and elderly who found themselves totally isolated, and that contact will continue. For those unable to afford the half-price vouchers that are the subject of today’s blog post there is a similar program at no cost.
Although French President Macron said, “Nothing will be like before” regarding the aftermath of Covid-19, Carcassonne’s Mayor Larrat doesn’t share that sentiment. He wants the life after to be, “an extension of that before, that the Carcassonnais find their city as they knew it”. I’d say that we’re all ready for that!