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I am living in Paris during Coronavirus. How did this happen? I am a Canadian who followed her heart and moved to Paris for a year at the beginning of February 2020.
As a Canadian living in France, I am highly tuned into the Coronavirus stats in France and Canada. In France on April 1, the day I started writing this post, there were 52,128 Coronavirus cases with 3,523 deaths and 9,444 recovered.
A mere week later on April 8, 2020 the numbers were shocking: 109 069 cases, 10 328 deaths, 19 337 recovered.
And as it taking me a long time to write this post, here are the numbers for April 12, 2020: 129,654 cases, 13 832 deaths, 26 391 recovered. The numbers are unbelievable.
As the Coronavirus makes its way around the globe, each country has its own unique agenda to battle the invisible demon.
Here’s how it rolled out in France.
- Friday, March 13 schools were closed
- Saturday, March 14 at midnight all cafés and restaurants were ordered closed
- Sunday, March 15 was a glorious and warm day and although we had been asked to social distance and stay home, Parisians were out in droves. They headed to the gardens which were closed as I discovered at the Jardin des Plantes. The banks of the Seine were heaving with people. Cyclists. Lovers. Families. Joggers. Skateboarders.
I had to wrap my mind around living in Paris during Coronavirus. I stocked up on food for two weeks as the rumours were flying that we would be confined. I walked into Monoprix and although some of the shelves were empty, managed to fill my backpack and head home.
Returning the very next morning, there was a line up of about 60 people down the sidewalk. It was the first day that I noticed limited numbers of people were admitted to stores.
- Monday, March 16 President Macron addressed the nation, telling the French six times that we were at war and that restrictions were to be implemented by noon on March 17. Many Parisians (about 17%) had already left Paris for their country homes.
- Tuesday, March 17 at noon the confinement began. The restrictions included carrying a signed and dated Attestation de Déplacement Dérogatoire, a legal document, with you when leaving home.
- A printed version was required or a handwritten note was accepted.
- Reasons to leave home include individual physical exercise within a two-kilometre radius of home, getting groceries, health reasons, work, childcare or helping the infirm.
- Individual exercise took on a very wide berth. Suddenly every Parisian became a jogger.
- The fine for not having the form with you started at €35 ($53 Cdn).
Personally, the two-kilometre radius allowed me to walk to the Seine, through Le Marais and also in the other direction, across Place de la République to Canal Saint-Martin. I figured I had lots of exploring to do and the idea of staying home had not really sunk in yet. I could handle Paris during Coronavirus and confinement.
Less than a week later on March 23, 2020 the restrictions were tightened.
- The two-kilometre limit for leaving home was reduced to one kilometre.
- The maximum time out allowed per day is one hour.
- The Attestation has to have the time recorded.
- The fine for transgressing the restrictions and not carrying the Attestation keeps getting steeper from €35 to €135 ($206 Cdn).
- The fine for non-compliance with the measures increases to €200 ($305 Cdn) in the event of a recurrence within fifteen days and €450 ($687 Cdn) if the fine is not paid on time.
- Markets in France were closed.
- A warehouse in the Rungis market, Paris’s largest market was transformed into a morgue.
- Some markets in rural France were allowed to open the following week if they are the only source of fresh fruit and vegetables for the citizens.
I have been stopped and asked three times for my Attestation de Déplacement Dérogatoire. Each time the police have been very respectful and it has not been a problem. There is no lingering on benches and I am even a bit wary of stopping to take photos, as I was asked for my Attestation as I took a shot one day.
- On April 6, the government document, the Attestation de Déplacement Dérogatoire, became available online and you are permitted to show it to the police on your phone.
- On April 8, jogging during the day became restricted to before 10 am and after 7 pm. I was pleased about this as on a recent outing I was passed by at least 40 joggers.
As scientists try and figure out how this virus is passed from one to another, joggers passing by without masks becomes a concern whereas a mere ten days ago it wasn’t. More and more Parisians are wearing masks and scarves to cover their mouths and noses.
Police vans with loudspeakers were in the streets ( I saw one) warning people to stay inside. Gendarmerie helicopters and drones were called in to reinforce the measures flying over the woods of Vincennes and Boulogne.
On April 13, 2020 President Macron addressed France again and extended the confinement until May 11. They are hoping to reopen schools this school year, possibly by May 11 but restaurants and cafés will remain closed. There will be no large gatherings until at least mid-July.
Paris during Coronavirus and confinement has found me living in a tiny (17m squared) apartment in le Marais. When Coronavirus started to spread around the world and Prime Minister Trudeau called everyone home, I had a tough decision to make, which you can read about here.
Twenty-six days into confinement, I am still happy with my decision to stay. I take my individual exercise walking along Canal Saint-Martin
or through le Marais, one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Paris.
Paris is laid before me as bare as she will ever be. I wander her streets, inhale the perfume of her springtime blossoms, reflect on life, capture Parisian vignettes during this unique time, and wonder what the future will bring.
Updates: The numbers as of today are mind-boggling. How could so many people have died? The number of Coronavirus cases: 177,423 Deaths: 26,643 Recovered: 56,724
Despite the numbers, the incidence of new cases has reduced and levelled off significantly. May 11 marked the beginning of deconfinement. One can now leave your apartment without the signed Attestation and can travel anywhere within 100 km. You can keep the company of a friend and can get a haircut! Stores have reopened with rules about wearing masks and people can exercise when they please. It is the first step.