The weather is still mocking us. Never have we had such a prolonged spell of gorgeousness: it’s still nippy (10°C/50°F), brilliantly sunny and an azure blue sky. Plus, the air is unpolluted and the birds are happily chirping. “Come out and play!” they are saying.
How I long to put on my walking shoes and go for a long strenuous trek across the city, or even around my neighborhood. But I cannot, or rather I can, but there are conditions. We are in strict confinement since last Wednesday March 18th. And I applaud the French government for imposing such measures. It’s the only way to slow and eventually halt this terrible virus in its tracks, the only way. When I read the international newspapers and see other countries who are not putting strict measures in place, I shudder with disbelief. By not doing so, they’re putting everyone in danger. How can government leaders be so désinvolte (casual, cavalier) in the face of this pandemic sweeping the globe? How can citizens be so dumb as to not care or understand the gravity of the situation? Do they not read the papers or watch the news?
Below is the document we need to have on our person when we go out, downloaded from the Ministry of the Interior website. For those who don’t have a printer at home, which is my case, it needs to be written out by hand on a sheet of paper, signed and dated (and now timed.) Every day a new document.
The idea is to discourage travel as much as possible by making it complicated, and to prevent people from improvising excuses when they are stopped by a police officer on the street. The reason for each trip must therefore be precise, and planned in advance.
The idea of confinement, the government says, is to limit movement to the strict minimum. Each journey increases the risk of contact and contamination, and therefore the potential duration of confinement for the whole of France. So, beyond the rules and the risk of fines, we have to ask the question before each trip: is it really necessary?
The only valid reasons for going outside are:
– commuting between home and work when telework is not possible;
– basic necessities like food and medication;
– health emergencies;
– imperative family reasons, such as assistance to vulnerable persons or childcare;
– short trips, near the home, to do sports individually (walking, running) and for the needs of pets.
As of Tuesday March 24th, however, the rules have been tightened:
Can I go out and do sports (jogging, cycling, gym, etc.)? (I have translated this from Le Monde newspaper):
Only brief trips, close to home, and linked to the individual physical activity of people, are allowed.
Only one outing is authorized per day, for a maximum duration of one hour.
You must bring your certificate by checking the box “individual physical exercise” and specifying the time of exit.
You must go out alone (unless you are with your children).
Keep a distance of one to two meters from any people you might cross in the street.
Stay within a kilometer around your home.
Contrary to what was initially announced, cycling sports outings are now prohibited, as is the practice of team sports. It is also not possible to go to a gym.
In case of violation of these travel rules, a fine ranging from 135 euros to 375 euros will be applied to offenders. In the event of recurrence within 15 days, a fine of 1,500 euros will be incurred. Verbalization more than 3 times within 30 days constitutes an offense punishable by a fine of 3,750 euros and six months’ imprisonment.