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Lockdown in Paris: Day 15

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This is the 15th day since the French government announced closures and then confinement to try and stop the spread of the Coronavirus. Some of you have asked what it’s like in Paris under the lockdown. I usually write my newsletter based on what I see and test around Paris, but since restaurants, shops and museums are closed, events all cancelled, and I can’t even run more than a kilometer from my apartment, all I can share with you now is what I can see from my little corner of the city, just one of millions taking it one day at a time.

Just an Average Day…in Lockdown

My weekday routine hasn’t actually changed so much, since I already work from home, go running a few times a week, and cook and freeze most of my own food. During the day I still work full time in communications for a non-profit.

After work I prepare dinner while listening to news on France Info, then play goofy little songs on my ukulele to de-stress (I also play from my window as part of my contribution to the 8pm applause for healthcare workers, much to my neighbors’ annoyance, I’m sure).

After the applause, I catch up with friends on phone or video chat. Sometimes with wine. We try to focus on the positive things, share funny videos, cooking tips, when we last bothered to shower. Anything but the horrible news we all know we’re following too closely.

Aside from Twitter, each night I watch the local news on BFM Paris, read Le Figaro and Le Parisien, and check the latest emails about what’s going on in Paris. From this, I write up my daily update here for Secrets of Paris. I’ve been trying to limit myself to no more than one episode a night of my favorite series on Netflix (at the moment it’s either Outlander or Blacklist – Pee Wee Herman is one of the baddies in Season 2, ha!). If I can’t sleep I catch up on reading in bed (currently it’s Rick Steve’s “Travel as a Political Act”).

On the weekend I go out to do my food shopping, usually just some extra fresh produce. None of the supermarkets around me were cleaned out, so I didn’t think it was necessary to hoard anything. But staying in each night means I’m cooking more than usual, and I can’t invite anyone over to share it, so my fridge and freezer are pretty well stocked.

I’m a member of a cooperative supermarket in the 13th called Grains de Sel where I contribute three hours work each month. Since so many Parisians have left town or are too sick or fragile to do their hours, I’ve been filling in here and there when I’m free. The nice thing about being in a cooperative is that not only am I sure there won’t be crowds or lines or shelves emptied by hoarders, I feel like I’m shopping with friends since most of us know each other.

When entering we all wash our hands and put on latex gloves. We keep our distance. Some wear masks if we bring them ourselves. One of the members is a retired healthcare worker who has shared information about how to make the best-possible homemade mask (with the understanding of their limited effectiveness, of course). All of the shopping baskets stacked by the door are labeled “disinfected”. I take everything home in my own reusable shopping bag, and wipe everything down with disinfection wipes in my entryway before putting it in the kitchen.

Then the usual routine we all do now when coming home: washing hands, taking off shoes, washing hands, changing clothes, washing hands. Wiping down keys, door handle, phone, and anything else I think I might have touched. I’ve gone through as much hand moisturizer as soap in the past two weeks. But this Sunday, I thought I’d stay in, eat more leftovers, and ignore the news for just one day.

I assume now that the lockdown looks like it will last for several more weeks that this routine won’t change too much. Unless I get sick. But like everyone else, I’m just taking one day at a time, trying to stay sane, and not lose hope that I might be one of the few lucky ones to come out of this without losing anyone I care about.

I hope the same for all of you, too. – Heather

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