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Lockdown in Paris: Day 1

Les Berges de Seine

Yesterday I was walking around my neighborhood in the 13th to get a bit of fresh air, and was quite surprised to still see all of the shops, cafés and cinemas full (even if the latter announced a limit of 99 seats in each screening). There was even another “gilet jaune” protest march, with a few hundred marchers in Paris at Place d’Italie. No one knew it was the last day of “normal life” in Paris…

French Government Announces Closures

Not surprisingly, last night at 7:30pm in France, the government announced that Stage 3 measures to contain the spread of Covid-19 would start at midnight with the closure of all cafés, restaurants, cinemas, shopping malls and non-essential shops.

Schools were already scheduled to close starting Monday. Anyone who can work from home is being asked to do so, with many companies closing their offices (for example, Station F, the 1000-company start-up incubator announced they would be locking their doors in 24 hours, so workers were scrambling to rescue their computers or other items needed to work from home).

What’s Open during the Lockdown

Pharmacies, food shops and food markets, newsstands, tabacs (smoke shops), gas stations, banks, vets and pet food shops, and public transportation (although not at 100%). The airports will remain open to allow French travelers abroad to come home.

Paris during the Coronavirus pandemic

This morning on my square the bakery, mini-market and open-air food markets were open. The florist was also open, so I got a pretty bouquet, joking that I had to act fast before the police shut them down (the police did pass by, but it looks like they stayed open until the rest of the market closed at 2pm). The voting stations were also open today for the municipal elections, although everyone had to bring their own pen, and the floors were taped off to show how far apart each person had to stand (there are never any lines where I vote anyway, so I didn’t even have to wait). I picked up some fresh fruit and veggies at the market, then some other items at the little supermarket near me (normal shopping, not stockpiling).

bouquet pois de senteur (sweet peas)
My “black market” bouquet of pois de senteur (sweet peas).

Le Papier Toilette

I haven’t seen it in my neighborhood yet, but people have reported toilet paper and pasta being cleared off shelves in their supermarkets. The government has told people to avoid panic-buying since there will be no interruption to the food distribution chain. The only thing difficult to find at the moment are masks and hand sanitizer.

Parisians are used to putting up with a lot of disruptions to their daily routines, whether from strikes to protest marches to storms or flooding, so they’re all pretty stoic about the whole thing at the moment. I’ll keep you updated here, on FB, and on Instagram as much as possible while the lockdown continues.

Stay safe, stay healthy! – Heather

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