How do expats in France feel about coming out of lockdown?
- Credit: Archant
France has begun easing its lockdown and expats living there have been enjoying the new freedoms of deconfinement
The deconfinement has begun in France following a reduction in the numbers of new coronavirus cases. The French government has started to slowly remove some of its lockdown rules at of 11 May. Some areas of France are seeing more relaxation than others, however, as the north-east of France is seeing higher rates of infection than other parts of the country and stricter measures are being kept in place there and parks in Paris are still closed. Public transport is open in all areas with strict social distancing measures in place including disposable masks being handed out to passengers at train station entrances, and seats being marked to show where people can and can’t sit to keep a safe distance from each other.
We asked members of the Living in France Facebook group how they were feeling about stage 1 of the deconfinement and found them welcoming the freedom to leave the house without an attestation – the lockdown form in which those in France stated their address and their reason for leaving the house – and travel further and for longer than before.
In Brittany, Joëlle Dachelet headed straight for the great outdoors: “Yesterday I went for a walk in the wonderful forest of Huelgoat. I felt so free suddenly!”
Fellow group member Anne Elrick was also glad to be able to take long walks again: “Hated the one-hour limit on exercise so for me being able to go out as often and as long as I want is great. I am usually up at 0500 in summer months to do a three-hour walk as it gets too hot for both pooch and myself later.”
Stephen Foley who has been taking extra care during lockdown as he is in an at-risk group said: “I have been self-isolating at home since the lockdown came into force. Later today I will go out to the local supermarket for groceries, and the pharmacy to renew my medications. It will be a relief not to have to fill out an attestation and yes, I will be wearing a mask and I’m not intending to use public transport.”
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The ease on travel has been a relief for those in the group with ongoing renovation projects in France. Caroline Shaw said: “I am pleased to be able to go out without an attestation. We are living in temporary accommodation while our house is being renovated. It was frustrating watching the weeks passing without any progress and without being able to secure the house properly. The workmen are back at work, and we can go and visit the house without worrying about being stopped by the police. So that’s a positive for us.”
Some businesses are now able to re-open in France and Lauren Clary is glad to be regaining an income stream: “For us the worry has been about making money during the lockdown. Our shop and B&B have been closed. Luckily, I have been able to teach online a little and I have also used the confinement to make some French quiz YouTube videos, but we are very happy to be able to open our shop again, albeit with plenty of precautions – customers must wear a mask and use hand gel before coming in, and we can only allow two people in at a time.”
Following the rules
Some members of the group have applauded the French government’s approach to dealing with the virus. Chris Perry who lives in one of France’s green departments (one where virus transmission rate is lower) said: “France has a plan and people have stuck to it largely. Good that shops are now open with masks in shops and physical distancing.”
Madeleine Clow-Suares commented: “I understand where all the tax goes now. I don’t mind if it means I have this much support.”
Claire Rowanne also said that she thinks the French people have dealt with the crisis well: “I think the way that France has dealt with the situation is commendable. Clear instructions, empathy from the President whilst talking to the people. Sticking to the measures from friends and neighbours. I haven’t heard anyone moaning about not being able to do x, y or z. Everyone has just got on with it, respecting the rules and now I am looking forward to having family and friends to come and stay.”
But the virus and anxieties about it are far from over and there is a way to go before normality returns fully to life in France.
In Bourgueil, Val de la Loire, Noelle Keating said: “We live in a small town and confinement was not too hard. The difficult bit was not being able to see friends, and It will be good to see friends again now, but we have to remember to be alert and vigilant. I have made masks for all the family too.”
Physical contact with those outside of your household is still a no-no, which some are finding challenging. Justine Anne Craven said: “It’s very emotional – we can go out, we can see people, but wearing masks is tough as you can’t see the expressions, you can look but you can’t touch, no hugging, no bisous.”
While another member, Bev Lambert posted: “I’m finding the deconfinement more stressful than the original lockdown! Already reports of irresponsible people not respecting social distancing in various areas and it’s scary to think of what the result in a few weeks might be if people refuse to do the right thing.”
Keep an eye on coronavirus developments in France here.