Lockdown in France: Day 42

April 29, 2020 at 6:25 am 3 comments

Before the Rain. Photo by Janet Hulstrand.

Well what is interesting of course is how it gets harder to be patient with the lockdown with each passing day: but also one must acknowledge that, having recognized the danger and the threat out there, and the incredibly robust contagiousness of this virus, the thought of returning “to normal” is pretty damn scary. In fact, one of the hardest things about this whole thing is realizing that we won’t be “going back to normal.” At all. Ever. Probably.

So. It’s probably time to come to terms with that.

Today France began its first tentative step toward reopening the country with Prime Minister Edouard Philippe’s speech to the Assemblée Nationale, in which he announced how the government would go about the process of déconfinement. What we can count on; what we cannot. And how things will proceed probably. (It still depends on things we don’t know yet. The French government is working closely with the scientific and medical communities in tracking the epidemic and deciding what it will be safe to do when; and exactly how.)

But it does look like as of May 11 things will begin to open up a bit. My older son will be able to leave the place in Provence where he has spent the period of quarantine. Hopefully he will be able to come here for a while and do his work as a journalist from here, since teleworking is still the best means of working for everyone who can do it that way. It looks like my younger son will be able to return to his position as a teaching assistant in Lille, working with very young children. Across France we will no longer need to carry an attestation stating the reason we have left our homes, and we will be able to stay out for longer than an hour, and go farther away from our homes than one kilometer. But there will still be special permission required for going more than 100 kilometers.

Masks are being produced as quickly as possible so that everyone can have one by May 11. And the production of tests has been ramped up also, so that the “Protect, Test, Isolate” strategy of the government announced yesterday can be effectively carried out.

The strategy of strict confinement has been pretty effective in France. The Prime Minister reported yesterday that since April 13 the “bad” numbers (deaths, people on life support) have begun slowly but steadily to move downward; and the “good” numbers (people safely released from hospital, numbers of tests and masks available, etc.) have begun to move up. (That’s my simplistic language, not his 🙂 )

So the important thing now is for everyone to not let go of the vigilance we have been urged, even ordered, to practice. To continue to practice the new habits (much more frequent and effective washing of hands, coughing into elbows, disinfecting surfaces, wearing masks, practicing the gestes barrieres (no shaking hands, certainly no faire-ing la bise. 😦 … ) And then we just have to hold our breath and hope that all of these things together, along with the heroic work of the health care workers, will get us through this period with as many people still alive as possible.

What have we learned as a result of this plague, other than how to take extraordinary measures of protection simply for going out into our world and moving about in it?

I hope we have realized that in this battle between man and nature, in the end nature will win. The planet will survive. The question is, will we? Will this lovely planet be a place where our grandchildren, and their grandchildren can live, maybe even in peace and harmony?

That is up to us, isn’t it…and unfortunately, so far, we’ve done so bad.

Can this terrible experience make us wake up and at long last work together to create a healthier, more peaceful existence on this beautiful planet of ours?

I certainly hope so.

Janet Hulstrand
 is a writer, editor, writing coach, and teacher of writing and of literature who divides her time between the U.S. and France. She is the author of Demystifying the French: How to Love Them, and Make Them Love You, and is currently working on her next book, a literary memoir entitled “
A Long Way from Iowa.”

Entry filed under: About France, About Quarantine 2020. Tags: , , , .

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Timothy Dunn  |  April 30, 2020 at 7:29 am

    Thank you, madam, from Orange County, California.

  • 2. Gordon Bartrem  |  April 30, 2020 at 4:08 pm

    I enjoyed reading your letter so much that I asked my wife to sit as I re-read it to her and we both enjoyed it together.
    Best of luck to you and your family and friends.

    • 3. Janet Hulstrand  |  April 30, 2020 at 4:11 pm

      Thank you so much, Gordon Bartrem! It is always a pleasure to know one’s blog is being read…even better to know people are truly enjoying it. Thank you for taking the time to let me know. Stay well and stay happy wherever you are!


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