Some things don’t change, whatever else is happening. And so the first two weeks of June have been pourries (rotten). The weather has been chilly, damp and generally miserable. We should be used to this; after all, it happens every year until the end of the third week. But somehow, when the May sun shines in cloudless skies, the pool nudges 30C and the barbecue sees some action, we are lulled into thinking summer has arrived.
Predictably, when we needed it last week, our boiler went on the blink. I won’t bore you with the long-running saga of our heating system, but we have been close to losing the will to live. Last week, I finally found someone who not only has the expertise to deal with it, but also came within two days to fix it. I was tempted to kiss his hands, but we’re still not allowed physical contact, so profuse thanks had to do. The system needs more work, but he seems to be on the case.
Progressive easing of restrictions
Life remains abnormal, even though France totters back to some kind of normality. Phase 2 of the progressive déconfinement began on 2nd June. The 100 km travel limit was lifted; parks, gardens, hotels and campsites could re-open; and restaurants and bars were allowed to re-open with restrictions. Customers must wear masks, except when eating, obviously, and tables must be spaced a metre apart.
Some restaurants had kept going before this by offering a fixed takeaway menu. We took advantage of L’Oustal del Barry’s (Najac) incredibly good value €10 per head menu one day. Unfortunately, Najac is almost 30 minutes’ drive away, so we couldn’t do it more often. But we reheated and dined on moules marinières, roast veal with potato purée and veg and tiramisu with lemon and strawberries. And then did nothing in the afternoon.
Summer fêtes at risk?
Public gatherings of more than 10 people remain forbidden until at least 22nd June. Our annual fundraising fête at Teysseroles, the 15th-century chapel we are helping to restore, due to take place on 28th June, is sadly cancelled for this year. There is no way we can assure sufficient social distancing during the meal, even if it is outdoors (only once in 10 years have we had to hold the meal in a marquee because the weather was so awful).
Many other fêtes and summer activities will be postponed or cancelled altogether.
President Macron will talk to the nation this evening. He’s expected to give an update on the current health situation and announce plans to jumpstart the economy, which has taken a terrible hit. He may also set out what will happen in Phase 3 of déconfinement with possible amendments.
UPDATE: I posted before Macron’s speech. As expected, these are some of the main points (not all):
- All French départements are green zones, except Guyance and Mayotte, meaning that cafés and restaurants in Ile-de-France can re-open.
- Schools will open as normal, and attendance will be obligatory, from 22nd June.
- The delayed second round of the municipal elections will take place on 28th June.
- Visits to nursing and retirement homes can resume as normal.
- State spending on the crisis will not be recouped from taxes.
- Public gatherings remain highly regulated.
- France opens its borders from today (15th June) and progressively to the rest of the world from 1st July. Visitors from Spain and the UK are invited to observe a period of quarantine.
The context is that the numbers are moving in the right direction, and Covid-19 is officially under control in France. However, it’s still with us, and it would be easy for a false sense of security to trigger a second wave. We are fortunate that our département has been one of the least affected by the illness, but we shouldn’t feel complacent. We need to find a balance between protecting people’s health and restoring everyday life.
The shopkeepers in our village serve from behind plexiglass screens, provide sanitiser gel for the customers and favour contactless card payment. But I am incredibly surprised by the small number of people in our village who bother to wear a mask in the streets or respect social distancing. The Mairie issued masks to all residents free of charge.
A friend said to me, “Après tout, ce n’est qu’une grippe” (after all, it’s only a kind of flu). He was not wearing a mask. If that’s the general attitude, we’ll be back in lockdown by the autumn.
I hope good sense will prevail. In the meantime, the SF and I continue to act with caution.
You might also like:
Copyright © Life on La Lune 2020. All rights reserved.