Covid-19: with Omicron, risks of paralysis of the economy

Given the speed of propagation of the Omicron variant, many employees in the public and private sectors will be infected, or contact cases, and therefore be on sick leave, placed in isolation. They will not be able to occupy their workstation. This will have a strong impact on many public services and businesses: in hospitals, schools, supermarkets, transport.

The first to have reported this week is the SNCF: the company is cutting trains for lack of personnel. It is for the moment of regional services suspended because there is a lack of sick drivers or contact cases But, the company expects a multiplication of the difficulties, including on the TGV. Serious concerns also in key sectors, such as energy, where the electricity network must be maintained, or factories that manufacture drugs or food products. They must be able to operate with a sufficient number of employees. Finally, in the hospital too, already understaffed, fears are strong: even more than usual, directors juggle with schedules, call students, retirees to replace those absent.

The situation is different from the one we experienced during the first wave of 2020 because the virus was spreading less quickly. In March 2020, there was collective astonishment, of course, but the teams were ready to provide “a war effort”, everyone was mobilized quickly. After two years of the pandemic, employees are tired, rinsed, not to mention those who threw in the towel and changed their lives. It is more complicated, for example, to bring in caregivers from other regions to help a region in difficulty. This time, there are almost no more reserves.

The government will try to curb contamination, via vaccination, but also by going a step above in terms of teleworking, by making it compulsory for example. In a very short time, moreover, Elisabeth Borne, the Minister of Labor, has already called on employers to spend two to four days of remote work. To maintain business continuity, the executive can also relax certain texts, as it had done during the first confinement where it had taken exceptional measures so that the agents and employees of essential services can proceed legally. , a greater number of hours than normal. Finally, Olivier Véran, the Minister of Health also asked that the rules of isolation be relaxed so that contact cases return to work faster.

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