France tightens the rules

So while the US fiddles while Rome and New York burn, the French are giving us new instructions. Apparently, too many people were taking the admonition to exercise a bit too freely. So the Prime Minister announced last night:

– if you walk or jog (known in French as “le footing”) you may do so once a day, for one hour total, no more than 1 kilometer from your place of residence. On your permission to go out paper, you need to note the time as well as the date. I don’t think this applies to walking the dog, but I’m not sure. I’m sure there will be a further clarification.

– biking for exercise is not permitted, despite German chancellor Merkel’s advice to her countrymen to do just that.

It is a very strange time here. Everything is closed, including the post offices, but I’ve been instructed by the state medical social security (CPAM) to send a package by mail. They also want me to print out my bank statements for the past 6 months and I don’t have enough ink for my printer. I’ve ordered more online but am not sure when or if it will arrive.

But happily, the boulangeries are still open, along with the grocery stores, with wine, cheese and fresh fruit, etc. Here to make you jealous is my lunch—quiche with tomatoes and goat cheese.

At 8 pm every night we all go out on our balcony and applaud the health service workers. turn on the sound.

Confinement

Confinement is what the French are calling this quarantine. And in typically French fashion, one must fill out a form each time one goes out, justifying the outing. Here (in English) are the choices:

Travelling to work is permitted so long as the work is essential, cannot be postponed, and cannot be done from home.

• Shopping for groceries and other essential items is allowed; there is no need for panic-buying as supermarkets and bakers can remain open throughout the lockdown.

• Exceptions are also made for “imperative family reasons”, such as looking after children and the elderly.

• Brief outings to get some exercise or take pets for a walk are allowed, albeit “with parsimony”; Castaner stressed that all group activities, such as playing a football match, are strictly banned. 

• All health-related appointments are permitted, including trips to the pharmacy.

This is the new normal. And it’s only day 2 of what Macron told us would be at least 2 weeks.

The only experience that is in any way comparable was the few days of blackout following the hurricane in 2012 (?). That was worse for me personally because there was no electricity, no WiFi and no water—hence no flushing. Now I can read, watch tv, obsessively check Facebook for new information and jokes. One wag added a new category to the above list, stating that he was going out because he could no longer bear to be around his wife.

Also pinched from Facebook, this quote from Scott Fitzgerald who was quarantined near here during the Spanish flu epidemic:

“The streets are that empty. It seems as though the bulk of the city has retreated to their quarters, rightfully so. At this time, it seems very poignant to avoid all public spaces. Even the bars, as I told Hemingway, but to that he punched me in the stomach, to which I asked if he had washed his hands. He hadn’t

The officials have alerted us to ensure we have a month’s worth of necessities. Zelda and I have stocked up on red wine, whiskey, rum, vermouth, absinthe, white wine, sherry, gin, and lord, if we need it, brandy. Please pray for us.”

Happily, there is plenty of wine in the supermarket, though no toilet paper. My cheese supply has been topped up, along with fresh fruit and veg. I have been going out for the newspaper to Ellie’s favorite tabac—where they give her cookies—and sharing the paper with an elderly neighbor when I’m done.

So no real problems for me as yet. I will keep you posted.