Update on life as we know it

The Prime Minister presented his plan for deconfinement here in France yesterday. We are on day 44 of this confinement/lockdown/stay-at-home order with 12 days left; as long as the numbers keep dropping.

Currently, we are only allowed outside for a few reasons:

  1. To purchase essential goods (i.e. groceries) at establishments that have been previously approved by the government as essential in this pandemic.
  2. Travel for medical reason that cannot be done remotely.
  3. Travel for family reasons, such as helping elderly relatives, or for child care.
  4. Travel for work, where remote work is not an option. There is also another form that needs to be filled out by your boss. 
  5. Travel, within 1 kilometer (0.62 miles) of your residence, in the means of physical activity. (Currently, this is limited in Paris to running and jogging between the hours of 7 PM and 10 AM. They clamped down on specifics after too many people were out and not respecting the social distance recommendations). 
  6. A judicial or administrative summons. You will need legal documents to accompany your permission slip.
  7. Participation in general interest missions commissioned by an administrative authority (i.e. community outreach work).

The permission slip came about after one weekend in March where the weather was beautiful and people flocked to parks and river fronts, and gathered in groups in public places after it was recommend that everyone social distance of 1 meter (3 feet). This was after the announcement that all bars, cafés, restaurants, theaters, cinemas were being told they were to be closed by midnight on Saturday. 

Now, here we are, with a glimmer of light at the end of the confinement tunnel. We are about to enter Phase One of this deconfinement process, which will go from May 11 to June 2. The prime minister said that he will address the French people again, after an evaluation of Phase One, at the end of May to reveal what Phase Two entails. He will also address the ever-heated topic of when restaurants, bars, cafés will open and under what conditions they will look like. 

One good thing about May 11 (even if it means those of us in Paris may not be “liberated” as early as other regions of France) is that we will no longer need the beloved attestation de déplacement dérogatoire (a.k.a. permission slip) when we leave our residence! HUZZAH! And we are allowed to move freely within 100 kilometers (62 miles) of our residence! It’s like Christmas! If you want/need to go further than the defined 100 km, you will need another special form. Have you noticed the French love their paperwork? 

After May 11, those who are on chômage partiel (partial unemployment) will most likely we going back to work (except those previously mentioned in the hospitality industry) but they will not be under the same conditions as BC (Before Covid). The prime minister asked those that are able to still work from home (télétravail) should but those returning to work, the employers must be able to ensure the safety of the staff and their customers. Proper social distancing measures should be put into place, whether that is staggering shifts for employees or asking so to start back at part time hours. 

That means, that most shops will be allowed to open back up after May 11. But they will need to be able to prove to local authorities that they have implemented proper safety measures for their teams and customers. There  will need to be protective gear for staff, distance indicators for places that a line may form, as well as any measures put in place by local authorities. Masks are highly recommended for the general public and shops do have the option to require that whomever enters their establishment must be wearing one.  

As of right now travel into France from outside is still extremely regulated and only for essential travel reasons. You will need to prove residency in France as well as have another form filled out (not the same one for travel within the country). 

If you are taking public transportation, it will slowly build back up to full service. Right now, in Paris, public transportation is running on a limited schedule (not as bad as during the December strikes) and measures are already in place for sanitizing and distancing within cars. Mask will be absolutely required on public transportation, there is no debate there. 

School will slowly begin to open back up. There will be limits on the amount of students allowed in a classroom. The decision right now is voluntary and up to the parents if they want their child(ren) to return to school, but they will need to be able to do classes at home. Currently only preschools, kindergartens, primary and junior high schools will be open; high schools will begin to open at the end of May. Masks will be required for students attending secondary schools, only, and not in primary school or nurseries. 

Now, to the part that everyone has been scratching their head about: socializing. Parks and gardens will remain closed until at least June 1; some public spaces in low-risk areas will be allowed to open, but will be monitored. No public gatherings (i.e. concerts, sporting events, demonstrations, etc…) will be allowed until September. Churches are allowed to open, but they, like shops, will have to prove that they have proper social distancing measures in place. Outdoor exercising will be allowed to resume as before, but gyms/studios (meaning those in a covered space) and team sports are not allowed at this point. Good thing my yoga studio is my living room! No cinemas, theaters, or museums for the foreseeable future, although smaller museums and libraries will be allowed to open because they can better regulate the social distancing measures. 

On May 7, each département will be given a color, red or green. You can guess what these colors will indicate. If you guess green for those with fewer cases and red with higher cases and they are an indication of when certain restrictions will be lifted, you guess right! Tomorrow night there will be nightly reports about this process with May 7 being D-Day (Jour-J here in France), if you will. Until then, we can only wait to see what the officials have to say. 

Again, these are the national guidelines, there are also supplementary guidelines that can be implemented at the local level. Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, has already revealed her additional measures for decofinement. Free face masks for Parisians, hand gel stations will be installed for the public throughout the city, hotel lodging for anyone who tests positive for Covid-19 so they can quarantine. There will also be other supplementary services available for those choosing to stay in the hotels. Nurseries and school openings will give preference to children of essential workers first and trickle down after that. It looks like masks may be required if moving around outside, but that is to be determined. Walking and cycling will be further encouraged for a means of transportation and a plan for temporary extra bike lanes is in the works currently. There is already a directory of stores and businesses that offer delivery and click and collect options, this will continue to be updated and regulated. 

It seems like a lot, but I’d rather the government take their time in reopening the country than rushing to get things open and have to go back into confinement. I’ll wear my mask, stay 1 meter away from people and mind my Ps and Qs. I’ve started to look for jobs and apply for positions, but I have no idea what I am in store for, nor do I know what the new system will be for the food service industry. Certainly an interesting time to be “in the business.”


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