Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Is it over yet?

I’ve been looking at the pictures of people in the UK celebrating their first outings since the lockdown was eased - sitting in pub beer gardens wrapped in thick coats with umbrellas protecting them from the traditional bank holiday weekend downpour - and I feel envious!   Here in France we are in what could be called ‘loose confinement’ - which sounds like a great description of the elastic-waisted jogging bottoms I have been living in all winter.   From having been restricted to ‘free movement’ within a 10km radius (or 30km with an attestation proving we have a valid reason for the journey) we can now travel as far as we like.  Unfortunately there is no reason to do this - as there is nothing to do when you get there.  Bars and restaurants are still closed, as are ’non-essential’ shops.

Nobody seems to know what is ‘essential’ or ‘non-essential’ at the moment and the decision seems to have been made by somebody just sticking a pin in certain words on a random list.   Clothes and shoe shops have been ordered to close but the wine shops remain open (this is France after all…)  In the supermarkets certain displays have been covered up so you won’t be tempted to buy ‘non-essential' items such as socks and pants but there is nothing to stop you buying tortilla chips and chocolate.  It also seemed strange that one couldn’t buy toys for children but you could buy toys for dogs.  I went to a large electrical store to buy printer ink, having used up all my supply printing out the endless travel attestations.  For some reason the fridge/freezer section was taped off like a crime scene - and yet there was nothing to stop you buying electric toothbrushes, beauty gadgets to make your face look younger, electric scented diffusers etc.  

For the moment we are still under a strict curfew and cannot leave our homes after 7pm, unless we have a fantastically valid reason for needing to do so, and have filled out yet another attestation.  I am still not entirely sure why there is more chance of catching Covid-19 at night, but as the restaurants are still closed there is not much reason to venture out in the evenings anyway.  This curfew will gradually be pushed back to 9pm (when outdoor terraces reopen) and then 11pm towards the end of June when everything should be fully functioning again.     The only bonus to all this is that I have learnt something that is glaringly obviously once you know it - the word Curfew comes from the french Couvre-feu (cover your fire).   Apparently it was a law created by William the Conqueror to ensure that everybody put their fires out by 8pm so that the old timber buildings wouldn’t catch fire.  No doubt if their houses had caught fire and people had to leave their burning homes they would have needed an attestation….. 


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