I hope you’re doing okay, and that you’re finding ways to keep your spirits up, even during Covid times with the inevitable restrictions—which in the US seem to vary from city to city and state to state. It seems very hard that there is no uniformity of rules and guidelines in the US, and there is everything from total freedom to total lockdown, with and without masks. In France, the President calls the shots and makes the rules. One person delivers the message, which applies to the entire country: the President, and I personally think he has done a good job, been responsible, and is very presidential, although he is a relatively young President. Right below him is the Prime Minister, who reinforces what the President said and spells out the details, like what stores and businesses will be open, and what won’t, parks and gardens are open, and places that gather big crowds aren’t (gyms, theaters, movie houses, etc.). With the rules coming from those 2 people, it’s a bit like having a Mom and a Dad. And the rules are clear. And although they tried hard not to, they put us back in confinement again last Friday, which was disappointing, but the rules are less rigid than the total lockdown of March, April and May. People were more panicked then, I think they are less so now, we’ve been living with Covid for 8 months now. I think what set off the sharp increase of cases now were all the people who went on vacation and partied all summer, on beaches, in bars, restaurants and nightclubs, inevitably spread the virus, and then went back to their home cities with the same free spirit and made everyone else sick. The increase in cases was dramatic in September and October, so they put on the brakes, and put us back in lockdown again. It was disappointing, but I think it was wise. We need to get things back in hand, so it doesn’t get totally out of control. It doesn’t feel as ominous as it was in March, where our whole world was caving in at a rapid rate. Since then, we’ve been confined, we know many people who have had Covid and survived it, so it doesn’t sound like an automatic death sentence, which it does not have to be. And we’ve had 5 months of deconfinement now in France, which was really very livable, and heaven compared to three months locked up at home. There are also better treatments now, easily accessible testing (in France), and everyone is wearing masks. The one big uncontrolled element are young people, teen agers, adolescents, high school and college students, who have been the hardest to control and convince to be careful. They party, they kiss, they hug, they congregate in big groups glued together, they don’t wear masks, and at one point half the people getting Covid were under 24. I think our current lockdown was in great part due to their refusing to follow the rules, and the adults who partied like crazy over the summer months and threw caution to the winds and ignored the rules. The young are convinced that they won’t get it, and if they do, it will be mild, which isn’t always true—-but their flaunting the rules and getting even a mild case makes the people they meet sick, some of whom, many even, are older and more vulnerable. All of which spells Lockdown for the rest of us. We’re under Lockdown for a month now, until December 1st, to be reviewed then.
One of the big struggles worldwide is to salvage the economy, while protecting the people. The lockdown which protects the people is a threat to the economy. If everyone is locked up at home, they are not out spending money, buying things, going to restaurants, or doing the things that support small and large businesses. So the rules are a bit softer this time, in order to respect businesses as best they can, although many will still take a hit, particularly at this time of year, with the holidays coming up, when restaurants and stores need sales. Bars are closed now, period, because it’s where people congregate in close quarters with their masks off, face to face, so they’re out. Restaurants are closed now, but can prepare takeout food, so they will have some income. Most stores are closed, but many are being allowed to take phone orders and deliver, and ‘essential’ businesses are open: food, alcohol, tobacco, anything to do with technology or phones, opticians, essential repairs, the construction industry is fully functioning, work is encouraged, remotely whenever possible, but in person if you can’t work remotely. Schools are open (they weren’t during the March/April/May lockdown), and are being kept open now so parents can go to work, day care is open for the same reason. It’s possible that the lockdown will be less effective, because the rules aren’t as severe, but it is the government’s attempt to keep business and the economy alive and not shut everything down. One of the things they have tried to stop is social gatherings. It sounds crazy, but even though we were only supposed to have no more than ten people visiting at home, or 6 at a table in a restaurant, and at one point only four, I do know of people who were giving big dinner parties, and gathering a lot more people than was allowed. It always annoyed me to hear about it—when the rest of us are battling to keep the virus in control, and following the rules, how irresponsible is it to give a party for 20 people, with masks off so people can eat and drink, which makes a gathering like that dangerous. I have stayed away from the people who weren’t respecting the rules. And I think the holidays will be challenging for everyone, trying to find a safe middle ground so families can be together and not risk getting everyone sick. I have gotten braver about asking employees, and even friends to have a Covid test before we see each other, and I’ve had tests too. My son came from another European country, and visited me with his wife and kids, and we all had Covid tests before we saw each other (the first family member I have seen in 8 months), and we all plan to do that before we get together for Christmas. I think following the rules right now is essential to get control of the situation, and get the numbers down to something livable again, so we are all as safe as we can be right now—and wearing masks of course.
One funny thing I’ve noticed is that during the March thru May lockdown you could ONLY leave the house to buy groceries, see a doctor, exercise for an hour, or walk your dog. Suddenly, overnight everyone in Paris had a dog, and was walking them day and night. The dogs looked exhausted and had this look of “Oh God, not a walk again”. The streets were crowded with people walking dogs. I don’t know if they begged, borrowed, or rented them, Paris was swarming with dogs, many of them very cute. By the end of May, with lockdown over, the dogs literally disappeared. I have no idea where they went, but the poor things were lucky if they got out at all. Now, looking out my window yesterday—-the dogs were back!!! Everyone I could see had a dog on a leash. I’m not sure if the dogs are happy or not about this situation, but everyone is out there walking a dog again. I happen to have 3 two pound Chihuahuas who are so small they hate going out, they sit down, glare at me, look pitiful and want to be carried, so I can’t get away with using my dogs as an excuse to go out and get some air, unless I carry all three of them, and nowhere in the rules does it say that you can go out for an hour to carry your dog—-you have to fill out a form to do so, which says that on your honor you are going out to walk your dog, see your doctor, or buy food. But the dogs are back in any case. I’m sure some of them haven’t had a decent walk since May, when everyone went back to normal life again. The dogs look pretty happy to be out so far. And if I want to leave my house, I’ll either have to buy groceries, go to my doctor, or convince my dogs that taking a walk really isn’t so bad. I didn’t leave my apartment for 77 days last time, which I think is unhealthy in other ways (not seeing other people, and not getting enough air and exercise. And isolation from other humans is really depressing).During lockdown last Spring, I sat on a tiny balcony to get air, it was a window ledge meant for plants, and walked around my apartment for a mile every day to get exercise. I think this time I will take a walk regularly to stay sane and get some air (maybe I can borrow someone’s dog??), and at home, I’m going to be doing a lot of writing again, and I’m going to start wrapping Christmas presents. And I can’t wait to be out again on December 1st.
Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, inside or out, locked down or free, have a GREAT week!! The good times will come again, and there are even good times now, we just have to remember to notice them.
Take good care, and stay safe, love, Danielle