The Start of De-Confinement in France – Monday 11th May!
From Paul, based at the Aravis Lodge in St Jean de Sixt – Bike and Ski Weekender’s home base in the French Alps.
We are approaching the first important milestone in the process of easing the lockdown measures in France, as a result of the coronavirus crisis – and as of this Monday 11th May, we will be free of many restrictions which have become a normal part of our daily life in France.
So, What Does This Mean, and What Can We Do?
It’s not a full release and certainly not everything is possible in one go, with many other aspects of life and the economy being re-introduced if progress goes well, and depending on local conditions. It is also being staged differently in some regions where their remains a higher COVID-19 risk factor (covering Paris and the Ile de France).
The 1st June is the next key date when more things should / could become possible. Until at least then, for example, bars and restaurants remain closed, and beaches and lakes must also stay closed – so the leisure industry is going to have to continue to wait for the all clear to open.
However, shops and businesses can start to re-open, and people are able to offer their services and products direct to consumers (with certain controls in place) across the board.
Schools can (where safe and possible) start to take back some children in certain classes from Monday 11th May. Others may have to wait a little longer, and it’s a complicated, staged process to ensure their safety in a school environment – but mayors and headteachers can now work on these aspects.
Transport will start to function again (albeit at a lower frequency), creches can re-open, people will be able to visit their relatives in care-homes, and so life starts to return to a “new normal”.
All borders (even internally within the EU) remain closed until further notice (at least until 15th June), unless there is an imperative reason to travel and cross them.
The principles of social distancing will remain, and meetings (public or private) are limited to 10 people.
Masks will become a regular part of normal life – they will be compulsory on public transport, and can be required in shops / shopping centres etc as well. Washable and re-usable masks are already available to buy from the Post Office, as well as supermarkets and pharmacies.
For a full update I would suggest consulting this article (in French) here >>>
A useful source of English news in France can be found here >>>
From Our Own Personal Perspective in St Jean de Sixt…
For us, the most important aspect is going to be the fact that we will no longer need to justify our trip out and away from our home, nor to carry the signed attestation form as to what we are doing!
We have only been permitted to leave the house for essential shopping, or to go to/from work (if its not possible to work from home), or to undertake some light exercise (which has to be within 1km of your home, and for no longer than an hour) but otherwise told to stay at home.
This precaution has meant that (apart from a weekly trip to the supermarket for my wife) we have not left our small bubble of the village of St Jean de Sixt for the past 8 weeks!
Whilst we are very lucky to have space to play, and we have some great wooded walks and footpaths within the village and our 1km radius – it’s no lie that all of our family are very much looking forward to spreading our wings a little further, and can’t wait for the 11th May to come!
After being contained within a mini-world for so long, it’s interesting to see that such small steps are going to make a huge difference, and how we are now very grateful for so many things we previously took for granted.
A trip to the neighbouring village of Le Grand Bornand and its riverside cycling path is long overdue.
Going round and round a car park on a bike just doesn’t cut it, and as a result the kids seem to have lost interest in riding their bikes sadly.
I am hoping that this will quickly come back when we’re allowed to just ride and be free!
Same for me, as the ability to go for a bike ride has been off-limits (despite some amazing spring conditions). This will now be possible as of the Monday 11th May, and I shall be permitted to travel up to 100km from my home without any need for authorisations or justifications…. I can go just for the hell of it!
Never before has a simple road-bike ride been so welcomed and anticipated… and I know I shall be smiling even more than usual at just being able to be out, and the feeling of freedom!
Of course, the coffee stop won’t be possible (as cafes remain closed), and I am not allowed to ride with anyone else – but these won’t detract from the amazing feeling of being out in stunning wide open spaces, and just travelling!
Our kids won’t be returning to school just yet, so its at least another 3 weeks of home schooling coming up.
However, they will be able to hang out and play with some of their friends in the afternoon, so they can start to rebuild their social interactions and friendships, as well as get back to using their French language with native speakers!
We, too, are looking to seeing friends again, and just sitting and having a cuppa whilst discussing what’s been going on will be an amazing step forward, as well as a release form the daily routine.
We will likely stay a metre apart (old habits die hard!), but that’s an amazing improvement on a video call or a chat…
We are very fortunate to live in a beautiful area of the French Alps, and are pleased that we shall very shortly be able to get out to enjoy our surroundings once again.
Walking, cycling, exploring or even just taking a picnic with a stunning view…
So – for us, the 11th May is only really about some quite small changes to our daily life, but I have a feeling that the impact of these are going to be huge for our family, and are certainly a very welcome relief after 8 weeks of coronavirus lockdown.
Although it’s a shame we have to have things taken away from us to release how much they mean to us, I hope that we will all recognise the importance of these small things, gestures or interactions as we re-enter “normal” life.
Let’s remember to be grateful for even the smallest of things…