Thursday, March 19, 2020

Corona Virus in France - Day 3 -Social Distancing & Confinement rules

Yesterday we spend our third day on home-schooling and our 2nd day in strict confinement.
Our cat who I think is happy for all the company but enjoys his naps!
Overall we have a routine - everyone is up by 8am - dressed and ready to start the day at 9.  Girls start their schoolwork and as adults - we are either working or writing.  My partner is still lucky enough to be able to be working from home and we wait to see what the future has in store for his work - he will probably be like most who will be going on technical unemployment shortly.

The toughest thing is to find the balance for us.  We are under strict confinement and the country of France is still trying to sort out what "may go out for exercise" truly means.  The government left it vague in their statement. - but one may exit for short duration for daily exercise with your self-certified paper
The above is a copy of the statement that we need to have with us if we exit the house.  It's signed on your honor and they have police patrols everywhere who are stopping those out to verify why you have exited.  The toughest one to enforce is the last one "brief exits in proximity of the house for individual physical activity - not to include groups sports or meet ups to do an exercise in a group - or if you have to walk your domestic animal". 

The government left it very vague and yes, it says individual but common sense is if you have children, you can exit to walk with them briefly.  The problem now is that everyone seems to interpret this differently.  There are legitimate people who are out exercising (running, fast walking, etc..) but there are others who are only outside for a stroll or out just to be outside.  The other question is distance - how far is "in proximity of the house"?  They have interviewed several people on this and again, it's a bit up to interpretation.  Some police officer's say only around a block - others are a bit more flexible.  If you are outside now in France without this statement or without a truly valid reason - you will incur a fine of 135 euros.

I think the point here is that we are suppose to stay at home - It's safest to stay confined in our homes, in our yards - on our balconies etc. but obviously for very short periods a short walk for a short period of time - alone would do us some good.  But does this have to be done everyday?  It's a personal question, a personal response.  

It seems that its really hard for people/humanity to stay confined.  The good news is now coming out of China - today marked that first day of no new cases reported.    But the Chinese were totally confined -  enforced confinement, they couldn't exit at all for about 45 days.  So honestly, I feel we are looking at the same thing here.

Psychologically, it's stressful to think toward the future - think about what it mean to be confined at home for a long time.  It definitely creates a lot of stress.  The government told us 15 days to start - but I am sure it will be longer, step by step. There are so many levels to think about - social, personal, financial - it's overwhelming. It's surreal. For me, it's best to go step by step, a bit like day by day.  Not get too overwhelmed, and stay calm.  Manage the problems as they come and not get too worried too quickly.

For us routine is helping us.  School/work time is from 9-12 and 2-5 pm and it is good that the weather is getting better.  Yesterday was a nice sunny day and so is today.  We are among the lucky ones -we have a small garden area and outside terrace.  It's not a big yard - but at least we don't feel penned in.  In fact, in the summer when the weather is nice, we often open the back doors and our outside terrace is really an extension of the house.  But it's not quite warm enough to do that yet.

Social distancing is also hard.  To not see friends is so different, no have human contact with our friends.  Yesterday between neighbors we finally were able to talk - but as we can't be physically too close , it's different. We live in a duplex and we share a driveway with our neighbors - so they pass directly in front of our house as they enter and exit their house.  

So the conversation looked like this:  I was upstairs in my bedroom window, my neighbor had gone to the road to get her mail and was now standing in front of our house.  My partner was standing to the side of our house and my neighbor's husband was at their gate entrance to their side.  4 of us, making a 3D square in order to speak to each other - have a normal conversation.  Part way through the conversation, another neighbor stuck his head over his wall to say hi. Everyone keeping their distance - a strange phenomenon - but wow! - it felt good to not only actually talk to each other but to see each other too.

Yes, we can talk on the phone to each other - but everyone is busy with their own lives, and with kids on distance learning - everyone is busy. So it was nice to actually visually see our neighbors and interact.

We made it through yesterday - and we are continuing our routine today.  I can say that having a routine is a good thing - having something to occupy one's time - a project or structured activities help to pass the time.  

As we listened last night to the increasing numbers of cases being identified here in France (and worldwide) and obviously more deaths, it's not easy.  It's clear that we are on the right path to contain the spread of this virus but it will be difficult and it will take time. It will take time world-wide.

So to keep our spirits high and our outlook optimistic - I am sharing a photos of Spring time and our lovely area . Here's a few of Andernos les Bain on the Arcachon Bay.

How are you coping?  Take care and stay healthy.

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