Tomorrow is officially our first day of freedom, sort of. We can go out without a certificate, that’s one good thing. But there are a dozen things we cannot do. As I look at the published “schedule of deconfinement measures in France until the summer”, I scratch my head and say “Huh?”
During the lockdown, we could go out for one hour and walk within a maximum radius of one kilometer around the home. Jogging was strictly forbidden between 10 am and 7 pm (why?) which meant that at 7 pm the streets were full of joggers bumping into one another. Now, we can venture further than a maximum radius of one kilometer, BUT only within a 100 kilometer radius.
“How many kilometers between Paris and Lille?” I asked my friend yesterday over the phone. I haven’t seen him or his kids in months. 204 kilometers, was the reply. So I cannot go to Lille. Here’s the new rule for travelling beyond a hundred kilometers:
Travel over 100 km
Movement will remain limited to compelling professional and family reasons (bereavement, assistance to a vulnerable person). A certificate will be required for trips of more than 100 km (as the crow flies) from his main home, outside his department of residence. Checks will be carried out. Failure to comply with the rules will result in a fine of 135 euros, an amount which may increase in the event of a repeat offense.
Can I take the metro tomorrow and visit a different part of Paris? I’ve been stuck in my neighborhood since mid-March.
Restricted Transportation in Ile-de-France (Paris and surrounding boroughs)
In Ile-de-France, during rush hour, transport will be reserved for people with a certificate from the employer or with a compelling reason to travel (convocation of justice, accompaniment of children). Failure to comply with these rules may result in a fine of 135 euros.
Reopening of urban transport
Subways, buses and trams were severely limited during the lockdown. They should retain reduced capacity. Only one seat out of two will be accessible and a flow limitation must be implemented if necessary. Wearing a mask will be compulsory, under penalty of a fine of 135 euros.
Reopening of parks and gardens
The reopening is possible from May 11, except in the four “red” regions: Ile-de-France, Hauts-de-France, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté and Grand-Est.
Paris is part of Ile-de-France which is still colored red, so that means that my favorite parks and gardens will remain closed.
Reopening of shops
With the exception of cafes, bars and restaurants, all shops are allowed to reopen. However, they will have to set up a limitation of the number of customers and to respect a minimum distance. The wearing of a mask will be recommended: shops may prohibit access to customers without a mask.
Hair salons will open tomorrow and they’re already fully booked in advance! I can do my own hair, but am impatient to see my pedicurist.
Reopening of large shopping centers
Shopping centers over 40,000 m2 “may reopen in agreement with the prefects”, except in the Ile-de-France region, said the Minister of Economy.
Funnily enough, there’s no mention of the re-opening of local Post Offices. For a month I’ve been walking around with letters to mail, one of them a birthday card to my godson in Lille who celebrated his 8th birthday two weeks ago.
Organization of working hours and organization
When teleworking is not possible, staggered hours are encouraged, particularly in the Ile-de-France region. Wearing a mask is mandatory when social distancing is not guaranteed. Sixty business guides are being developed to cover all sectors of activity.
Because I work at La Défense, Europe’s largest business district housing 180,000 people, only twenty percent will return tomorrow. In the office towers, the elevators will be restricted to 4 passengers only, the staff cafeterias and gyms closed; masks and gel will be distributed and, most importantly, the central air conditioning will be sanitized daily. (there has been concern about Coronavirus being transmitted through central air ducts.) The return to work will be progressive.
There’s a lot more rules and regulations that you can see here, all neatly categorized by sector and date. You know, the French are often perceived as chaotic, unruly, and undisciplined. Not so.