French Law Firms Prepare Themselves & Clients For Coronavirus

Law firms in France are in full coronavirus prevention mode, updating and rehearsing contingency plans to protect staff and their business, and labor lawyers said they are advising clients to do the same — now — before a crisis is declared. Reports

As the number of cases in northern Italy continues to rise, French health authorities have stepped up preventive measures to protect the public against the further spread of COVID-19, as the virus is called. The government has also announced expanded salary support for workers who need to be sent home on quarantine, a move it hopes will encourage employers and workers not to push their limits and put others at risk.

But with the number of confirmed cases in France inching up but still relatively low, the government has not yet declared a state of health crisis or epidemic, a move that would trigger more drastic measures such as the closure of public transportation and cancellation of public events. As of midweek, two fixtures on the February calendar — the Carnaval of Nice and Paris Fashion Week — were still on.

“What we are telling our clients is, you should anticipate — but not too far ahead,” Emmanuelle Rivez-Domont, a labor partner at Jones Day in Paris, told International. “Don’t run unnecessary risks, and don’t wait to put preventive measures in place. But don’t make hasty decisions that could expose you to problems on other fronts.”

“Until there is a public declaration of some sort, the best advice to give any clients is to communicate well with the public and your employees, and institute good preventive and hygiene practices,” said Ariane Sic Sic, a solo practitioner whose clients include the American Center for Art and Culture in Paris.

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