Confinement and Lockdown Strategies

As of last week, France has gone back into lockdown, which prompted a 454 mile (730km) traffic jam as people tried to get in and out of the city. The lockdown is expected to last a month and while it’s not ideal, it’s not nearly as restrictive as the lockdown we had last spring and everything from taking a walk to going to the grocery…

As of last week, France has gone back into lockdown, which prompted a 454 mile (730km) traffic jam as people tried to get in and out of the city. The lockdown is expected to last a month and while it’s not ideal, it’s not nearly as restrictive as the lockdown we had last spring and everything from taking a walk to going to the grocery store was tense and fraught as there was less information as the Covid-19 virus is spread, and masks were in short supply.

On the second day of the current lockdown, I went to get a few groceries and there were people on the streets, people eating food in front of restaurants, people in offices, and even the local vodka shop was open. (Bookstores, however, are closed as they’re not considered essential businesses. Interestingly, large supermarkets can remain open, but aren’t allowed to sell books either.)

The situation is evolving and my hunch is there will be more stringent measures put into place, a feeling shared by everyone I’ve spoken to here. But unlike last spring, I have enough baking chocolate, flour, and sugar, to last for a couple of months. (Almost everyone I’ve spoken to has also agreed that this lockdown is likely to continue through Christmas.) For the record, I’m not a hoarder. Because of what I do, I always have a few month’s worth of baking ingredients on hand because, well…you never know, do you? Last time I was caught without any chocolate, which in my line of work is considered “essential.”

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France Comes out of Lockdown

Today Paris, and all of France, comes out of lockdown. The government has relaxed restrictions and you’ll no longer need an attestation (self-written consent form) to leave your home or apartment. The country has been divided into two zones, red and green, determining where the virus is spreading most rapidly. You can view the map here. (Paris is départment 75.) Restrictions vary by zone, but…

Today Paris, and all of France, comes out of lockdown. The government has relaxed restrictions and you’ll no longer need an attestation (self-written consent form) to leave your home or apartment. The country has been divided into two zones, red and green, determining where the virus is spreading most rapidly. You can view the map here. (Paris is départment 75.) Restrictions vary by zone, but here are some general guidelines, which are subject to change:

-Gatherings of up to 10 people will now be allowed.

-Schools are reopening, starting with elementary schools with reduced amounts of students (15) in each class, with a promise that classrooms will be regularly disinfected. A gradual increase in proposed to open junior and senior high schools, as the month progresses.

-Trains and public transit will gradually increase in service. Some métro stations will remain closed, however, and the RATP will operate at 75% of capacity. They are relying on a “civic duty and responsibility pact” with passengers to adhere to the rules. Seats will be blocked off in an effort to keep riders at a distance from each other. (The métro this morning was standing-room-only.) Workers in Paris will need to supply documentation from their employers in order to use public transportation to get to and from work.

[Note: Social distancing guidelines in France are to keep 1 meter (3 feet) apart from others. In the U.S., those guidelines are 2 meters (6 feet.)]

-Masks will be distributed to Navigo (transit pass) subscribers at certain métro stations. They will be required on public transit as well as in ride-shares like Uber and Kaptain. Pharmacies will receive a certain amount of reusable masks that can be handed out for free from May 11 to June 8 if you sign up at the Paris.fr website. Hand sanitizer will also be provided at public transit stations. The price of hand gel is regulated in France, but because masks vary by quality, design, and materials, there is no fixed price on them yet. French President Emmanuel Macron has been wearing a mask in public to encourage people to wear them as an act of civic duty and patriotic pride.

-Small museums will be allowed to open but larger museums, like the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay, will remain closed.

-Restaurants, cafés, and hotels will remain closed until at least June 2nd, when measures will be reviewed. However many restaurants and food-related businesses have started offering meals to-go. Most are putting that information on either their websites, Facebook, and Instagram accounts.

-Some shops will start opening today, at the owner’s discretion. Owners may limit the number of people in their shops at the same time and require purchases to be made by credit card. Food stores, supermarkets, and bakeries remain open. Outdoor markets are scheduled to reopen providing they take precautions regarding following proper hygiene procedures and social distancing recommendations. The city of Paris has launched a website where you can get items delivered to your home from some of the outdoor market vendors. The website is here.

-Depending on the region, and whether you are zone red or green, some parks (and perhaps beaches) may be open.

-The Health Minister announced that France now has the ability to test 700,000 people per week and said they will begin doing so. Testing will be overseen by the public health department.

-The borders of Europe still are closed to international travel and France is under a state of “Health Emergency” until July 24th. There’s been no indication or notice given when that will be lifted but the government is planning to release a reopening of tourism plan by the end of May. For updated information about tourism, I advise you to check with the embassy of your country for guidance if you have current or future travel plans.

Visit the official French government website with information on the coronavirus here.

France24 also has French news in English, French, Spanish, and Arabic. RFI is another multilingual news source in France.