Monday, May 4, 2020

Day 49 - Confinement in France - The easing up on the lockdown-plan...update

Bonjour tout le monde 

Here we are on day 49 of confinement or lockdown in France. If you're like our cat above - we are just tired of all of it.  But we continue with hope and with our ongoing human spirit.  There is a light forming at the end of the tunnel...we are beginning to see it...but we still have a ways to go. 

Last Tuesday afternoon - April 28 - the Premier Minister - Edouard Philippe spoke about the potential next stage for La France, if numbers continue to go down regarding the virus, new cases and hospitalizations alike.  This is a summary of his speech given to the National Assembly - (France's version of the US Congress).  
Watching the number of  severe cases decrease as we moved through April
Translation and resumé of Edouard Philippe's speech to National Assembly - April 28, 2020

Post confinement plans
The country cannot be forever confined. This plan's objective will be debated by the deputies and put to a vote.

(Here are the conditions regarding the virus)
- If the numbers don’t show a decline we will not deconfine on the 11th May or we will be under more strict terms than originally planned. The uncertainty is around the number of new daily covid-19 cases or the contamination chain for instance.  We must push the French people to be at the utmost discipline until the 11th May and to fight against any risk of laxity that we are feeling around us at this moment in time. (Simply put - we need to continue to adhere to the strict lockdown procedures.)

- After an initial phase of de-confinement on 11th May, a new stage will follow on the 2nd June for 3 weeks, with new measures that will all depend upon the level of this epidemic at that time.

- the deconfinement will be differentiated on 11th May between various regions: ‘green’ where it will be applied widely and ‘red’ where there will be more restrictions.  (They began reporting the status of each region by a map last Thursday April 30)

For this 3 different criterias will be studied up until and on the 7th May to determine within which regions:
1. the virus is still actively circulating (number of new cases being observed)
2. How hospitals regionally are coping in terms of capacity and pressure within intensive care units
3. In which region(s) the volume of local testing & detection kits are not quite ready

Regarding Transport
- wearing of masks will be compulsory on all public transport
- the number of people allowed on public transport will be reduced to respect social distancing (in carriages etc)
- interregional transport will be reduced to maximum level
- NO MORE need for an ‘attestation’ (signed honor statement) from the 11th May, unless for any travel further         than 100km from your home
- Ask that those over 65’s continue to limit their contact with people and the outside world

Events and Gatherings
- All large sporting/ cultural or any events with more than 5000 people will not go ahead until September earliest
- Cinemas/ Theatres/ Large museums and concert halls will continue to stay closed post 11th May for now
- Gatherings will be limited to 10 people from the 11th May on both public or private areas
- Beaches will stay closed until at least 1st June
- The professional sports season for 2019-2020 will not be able to resume
- no religious ceremonies before the 2nd June
- Funerals will continue to be limited to 20 people with cemeteries reopening as of 11th May

Schools and Crèche
- Progressive reopening of preschool and primary schools as of 11th May decided by region. 
  Parents may chose to not send children as long as distance learning is followed.
- Crèche will also reopen from 11th May with groups of max 10 children
- All workers within these establishments need to wear mandatory ‘grand publique’ masks
- Under 3’s not obliged to wear masks
- From 18th May and only in regions where the virus circulation is low (green) they may envisage opening
   collège (middle  schools) - starting with 6eme & 5eme (US equiv- 6th&7th grade)
- Wearing of masks will be mandatory in ‘collège’ secondary schools, these will be distributed to those who have     not been able to acquire their own
- A decision will be made at the end of May with regards to ‘lycée’s’ (high schools) along with 4ème & 3ème (8th     & 9th grade ) in the middle schools reopening starting with lycée professionnelles beginning of June

- Working from home must be continued where possible for at least the next 3 weeks (after 11th May)
- Flexible hours to be put in place where working from home is not possible
- Wearing of masks at work mandatory when physical distancing is difficult to have in place due to nature of work
- The partial unemployment’ offers by the govt to stay in place until 1st June

About masks
- It is recommended (as scientists and experts have suggested) to wear a mask whenever possible in many
- the PM promises there will be enough masks in France to face the needs on the 11th May
- They strongly advise companies to equipe their staff with the necessary safety protection required and for 
   members of the public to make their own masks using the various practical guides, online wherever possible.
- Nearly 100 million surgical masks received per week
- Collective regional support for the purchase of masks taking 50% charge of reusable/ washable masks
- Pharmacies and supermarkets are invited to sell masks (single use or reusable)
News on testing
- widely test people who have covid19 symptoms and those they are in contact with them.
- a ‘team’ has been put in place in each region to identify these people who may have been in contact with 
  someone presenting symptoms
- Their objective is to have done 700,000 virological tests per week starting 11th May
- Those tested positive will self isolate at home (which will mean everyone in their home too) for 14 days, or else 
  housed in accommodation put at disposition by the govt (requisitioned hotels for example)
- Health insurance to cover 100% of these tests

- Shops to reopen on 11th May except restaurants/ bars/ cafés. Masks recommended to be worn by personnel 
   and clients alike
- All outdoor food markets will reopen 11th May apart from some exceptions - & are too follow social distancing
- Commercial malls will not reopen if they are over 40,000 square metres in order to avoid the vast movement of 
   the population

END OF MAY they will evaluate the conditions and announce a new phase of de confinement. In particular a decision on how/ when to open up the possibility of restaurants, bars, cafés and summer holidays.

So we eagerly wait for May 11 - that light - it's not the end of the tunnel but it's the light that we can see.  France has consistently chosen to move in 3 week intervals -lockdown, extension of the lockdown...and now we wait for May 11...

None of these conditions are too much of a surprise.  Most businesses, stores and restaurants are all eager to re-open.  But there is also fear - fear of a second wave - fear that the virus will spread more as people are out and about.  The French government is constantly telling us that we are NOT returning to life as we knew it.  We are taking initial steps to ease some of the restrictions for those regions that are ready.  But we haven't had the green light yet....

As of today - France counts - 168,693 cases of Coronavirus with 24,895 deaths. For the past 10 days the number of  deaths and the number of patients in ICU has steadily been dropping.  Now in certain regions of France - they are still over bed capacity in their ICU's but in other regions - are well within normal limits.  It's a waiting game - the same as it is world wide.  In our region of Nouvelle Aquitaine - we were not hit as hard with the virus (fewer cases, hospitalizations and deaths) so we have more hope that come May 11 - we will be one of the regions to experience this first step - first phase of deconfinement.

My biggest concern is the kids returning to school.  I'm waiting to see what the town is proposing.  As my girls are older - I have a slightly different perspective than a parent with elementary age children.  At this point, my youngest (12.5 years old) would be starting first.  She will be required to where a mask.  She is also old enough to know how to keep her distance.  No hugs, no kisses on the cheeks with friends - no touching!  She needs to see her friends, she needs interaction - but she is also old enough to know the rules and follow them.  There will also be a lot of hand washing!
The schools are suppose to limit the classroom size to 15 kids.  But we are not sure how this will happen - half days? half weeks?  A weeks and B weeks?  I would chose to take me daughter to school or to have her ride her bike.  She would not be taking public transport at this point.  We just don't have all the information yet.

But I'm waiting to see what is proposed for our town and her school.  I know the teachers and the schools in general are having a hard time figuring this all out.  So it's another waiting game to see if returning to school is really going to happen.  I know for the High school students they have postponed the decision until June 1 - and for my oldest - she's not returning.  (Yes, a trip will need to be made to get her stuff out of her room...oh joy!!!).  

So it's still wait and see here in France - with a hope toward next Monday - the magic date of May 11!!!  We continue to live in our limited confined state at home.
Seafood delight!!  Reaping the benefits of living near the Ocean!
lots of  reading going on...

Paella - made by our wonderful neighbor!!

And really missing this!!  I miss my clients, my job and showing off this beautiful area on a daily basis.  This is what I was doing one year ago today!!!  A fun little trip to the Sauternes region with my clients from Viking Cruises!  So looking forward to seeing my clients again!!

Chateau Rayne Vigneau - Sauternes

Hope everyone is well & taking care of themselves.

A Bientot - See you again soon!


  1. Thanks for sharing your experience and the outlook on the brink of deconfinement. I know you live in Pessac and I have been wondering about the Sunday market. Is that to open as well (along with other outdoor markets)? It will be hard to enforce social distancing in such a crowded space, especially if people haven't gathered in quite some time and will be eager to see one another. Whenever we go visit family in Pessac, I make sure we're there for 2 Sundays (at least) so we can gather at the market! Coming from NYC, it is an amazing change of pace and one of the things that makes life so different from what I call home! Stay well, and good luck returning to "normal" (or as "normal" as it can be).

    1. Thanks for commenting -always nice to hear from readers. The outdoor markets were initially left open but then were closed and are now re-open under new protective sanitary conditions as required by the law. Merchants have marked off waiting areas and used barriers to ease the flow of pedestrian traffic. I also think many people are hesitate to return to the markets so the crowds are down. While the markets were closed, many vendors organized central pick-up/delivery options for their clients which also directly helped the vendors and ease the crowds in the market. I love the Pessac market also - always a treat. I haven't ventured back yet but intend to soon. You too, stay safe - we love NYC and always visit when we are stateside. We have been saddened to hear about all the deaths. Thanks again.

  2. Things are not looking good at all in France. I have a tourism company in Burgundy where we work with American clients. We work with the local markets and wine growers and with everything closed, it's all a bit doom and gloom. Hopefully things will pick up soon. Good luck with the rest of the confinement and continue the great work with your writing.

    1. Thank you Jake for commenting. I totally understand - here in Bordeaux the tourism market is big business between river & ocean boats and the wine (like Burgundy!). I also work with American clients and we have just been told the it will be minimally September before the companies sail again. If that is the case, I will have lost 2/3 of my season! I definitely feel your pain.
      On the good side, things are slowly looking better and better, wine vineyards are opening ups under new conditions and the whole country is slowly reopening but we need the foreign tourist too! - here's hoping that it continues to go that way. Thanks again for commenting.


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