The government hasn’t given an exact date, but have announced the lockdown is most likely to last “several more weeks”.
Strict Rules for Runners
Today the government announced that from now on anyone going outside to exercise, such as running, can only do so once per day, for a maximum time of one hour, and within 1km of your residence. To enforce this, you need to now write the TIME on your attestation each time you go out (as a reminder, you need a new attestation for each time you leave the house).
No More Open-Air Markets in Paris
Despite all of the measures taken to try and limit exposure in the open air food markets and to keep everyone one meter apart, the government announced all open markets are closed. Local authorities can allow a market to stay open if it’s the only place in a neighborhood for residents to purchase fresh produce (I’m not sure this is the case anywhere within Parisian city limits, but is certainly the case in a lot of small villages).
We’re Not All Bad
The Prime Minister Edouard Philippe made a point of thanking all of the French people who ARE respecting the rules, saying in his speech at the National Assembly today that with each passing day, despite the news highlighting all of the people fined for breaking the rules, that the majority are serious in following their civic duty and understand that following these rules is best for everyone. For the moment, he has not declared a curfew for all of France, allowing each mayor to decode, so Parisians can still go out as needed at any time of the day or night (with your attestation, bien sûr!)
A Message from French Farmers: Stop Buying Rice and Pasta already!
With the open-air markets closed and many farmers short on labor because of the Coronavirus, it’s more important than ever to BUY AND EAT as many fresh fruit and vegetables you find in supermarkets and convenience stores, because unlike rice and pasta, they will have to be thrown out if they’re not consumed. Buy as much as you can and use it to make pies, smoothies, jam, soups, or other recipes that can be stored or frozen…just like our grandparents used to do! If you need some advice on how to keep all of your fresh produce from going bad, here’s a great primer from EatingWell: The Best Way to Store Fruits and Veggies
Need Seasonal Work?
Ironically, not only are French farmers worried about having to throw out tons of what they grow, they’re even more worried they won’t even be able to get it into the stores in the first place. The agriculture industry employs approximately 200,000 seasonal workers to pick fruit and vegetables, but most of them come from Portugal, Poland, and North Africa…this year there’s likely to be very few at all who can – or want – to work in France when the spring harvest begins to ripen. Radishes, lettuce, cucumbers, asparagus, strawberries are ready to pick now in Brittany, and further south the first summer fruits will arrive in a month and a half. When I was a university student, many of us worked on farms in the summer. With the tourism industry at a virtual standstill, it might not be a bad option for many French residents who are looking for some extra cash to hold them over until the tourists can return. If you’re interested, visit the site of ANEFA (Association Nationale pour l’Emploi et la Formation en Agriculture). You can also work on organic farms in exchange for room and board through French branch of the international organization, WWOOF.
Reduced Public Transport
Bus, metros and trams are still running, if at a reduced rate, to make sure everyone who has to work away from home can get to their jobs. For the busses, you can no longer buy a ticket from the driver (or even approach them…enter through the back doors only). You can purchase a ticket with your cell phone (this has actually already been used in beta form for almost a year under “SMS Ticket”): once you get on the bus you simply send the text message to 93800 with the word “bus” and the number of the line (ie Bus+38) and it will charge you €2 (plus anything your phone service charges you for sending texts). It’s valid for one hour without changes. There are signs on the bus explaining how it works if you’re not sure.
Abandoned Pets because of Misinformation
Not to end on a sad note, but the number of pets being abandoned in France has risen sharply since the Coronavirus outbreak because of false rumors that our pet dogs or cats can transmit the virus. It’s simply not true, and refuges in France – which were already suffering overcrowding and a lack of staff – are now sounding the alarm. Please spread the word far and wide: YOUR PETS ARE SAFE! KEEP THEM HOME WITH YOU! Here is the French Society for the Protection of Animals Q&A (for info in English, read the notice from American Veterinary Medical Association).
Stay healthy, stay sane! – Heather