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I am not sure where the month of April went. The days seemed to drag on, but the weeks flew by. I spent the majority of this quarantine in our studio apartment. There were periods of productivity mixed with a lot of down time, which I touched upon in my blog post from two weeks into the lockdown.
As we head towards the beginning of the deconfinement (French people literally just made this word up, and I’m following suit), I want to give you an update on the situation here in France, and specifically in Paris. I’ve had a lot of questions lately about how things are developing and what the plan is. There are obviously still a lot of unknowns, but we do have an outline of some basic rules which were set forth by the French Prime Minister a few days ago. These new protocols will go into effect starting on Monday, May 11. I’m just going to touch on a few areas, but if you want to go into more detail, check out this crazy chart.
Red, Orange, Green
Maps were created to divide the regions of France into three color-coded categories based on a few factors: the saturation of hospitals, the depletion of resources, and the active spread of the virus. A final map synthesized all of this information to determine how the deconfinement would be rolled out. Red zones, as you might have guessed, will be more restrictive. Paris is in a red zone.
Here’s what the synthesized map looks like:
I’m looking forward to having the freedom to wander the streets again, without a permission slip. There won’t really be anywhere to go, but that’s not the point! As long as we stay within 100km (62 miles) of our home, we won’t need a form. However, it should be noted that in the region of Ile de France (Paris and the areas surrounding Paris), a permission slip will be required if you are on public transportation during peak hours.
If you want to travel outside of the 100km radius, there is a new permission slip that the government has created (because, France). You will need to have a valid reason such as work or family matters. In addition to the permission slip, you will need to carry a proof of address. While there may be some checkpoints, in large part, the government will be relying on the honesty policy.
Metros and buses will continue to run but at a reduced frequency, with a return to normal service by the beginning of June. On May 11, 60 metro stops in Paris will not yet be opened. Use of the Paris metro will be restricted during peak hours (6:30am-9:30am and 4pm-7pm) to those who have a valid reason for travel. There is a form to fill out.
Additionally, Paris is planning on limiting cars on some major roads in order to cut down on pollution, which can carry the virus. More bike paths are expected to be created in order to encourage cycling as an alternative means of transportation.
Masks are required on public transportation. You can face a fine of 135 euros (146 USD) if you do not comply. They are strongly encouraged in any areas where social distancing is harder to maintain. Masks are available at pharmacies and grocery stores.
The European Union’s borders will remain closed until at least mid-June. There has been talk that these borders will stay closed until September. Exceptions are made for citizens, residents, family members, and those with other urgent reasons.
What Will Be Open?
Daycare centers, elementary schools, and middle schools will open with reduced capacity. There is no obligation for parents to send their kids to school at this time. High schools may reopen later, but universities will not be opening for the remainder of the school year.
Most businesses can open starting on May 11, as long as they can enforce social distancing rules. (It’s no secret that I’m most excited about libraries opening their doors.) Small museums, hairdressers, and open-air markets are all allowed to open. Gyms, movie theaters, shopping malls, and businesses that encourage large groups of people are not allowed to open at this time. Bars, restaurants, and cafés can offer take-out and delivery.
Parks and gardens are allowed to open in green areas on the map. Forests everywhere can reopen. Beaches and lakes will remain closed unless the local mayors decide otherwise. They would also have to guarantee that social distancing and appropriate behavior continues to be observed.
During the Prime Minister’s speech, it was stated multiple times that we should continue to be mindful going forward. We are not out of the woods yet, and it’s important to remember that it’s not just about us. We should maintain good hygiene, respect social distancing rules, and make decisions with the whole community in mind. People who are considered vulnerable are urged to be especially cautious about leaving their home. Gatherings of more than ten people are not permitted.
The next look at deconfinement rules will be on June 2. They will consider the opening of additional businesses and spaces at that time, based on data. It will be an evaluation of current data and a discussion regarding next steps. It is not a guarantee that things will continue to open.
What do you think about these rules? Do you have any questions about day to day life right now in Paris? Let me know in the comments below!
Curious about what a deconfined Paris looks like without tourists? Check out my update on the situation.