What the Coronavirus Lockdown Means for France
France began a stringent 15-day minimum lockdown beginning Tuesday, March 17th at 12 p.m. The lockdown, announced by President Emmanuel Macron on March 16th prohibits all travel, with the exception of a few cases which require a certificate.
The specific travel instances allowed with a certificate include visiting health professionals, making essential purchases such as groceries, exercising individually, commuting to and from work when telework is not an option, and traveling for childcare or to aid vulnerable populations. Visit here to obtain circulation certification documents. A fine of up tp € 135 will be issued for any travel violating these terms.
An estimated 100,000 police and gendarmes are tasked with enforcing the lockdown. Those exempt from the travel restrictions are journalists and those who work in healthcare, but they must present their professional documentation to prevent from being fined.
The reasoning behind such strict lockdown measures comes from Jérôme Salomon, one of the top Health ministry officials in France. Salomon says that France risks flooding its hospitals due to the fast pace of the worsening epidemic.
“We must all have a spirit of responsibility,” said President Macron in his announcement on Monday, when he declared that France was at war with the Coronavirus and demanded national solidarity in the fight against the epidemic.
What exactly this means for everyday life in France is uncertain, but the unusual emptiness in cultural hubs like Paris makes the situation appear bleak. With the call to close all non-essential stores came the extinguishing of Paris’ bustling café scene, making the impact of the epidemic visible immediately as every café is now eerily vacant. Popular tourist attractions like the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe which never see a void moment also sit empty at this time.
Also unknown is the fate of the arts industry in Paris. Not only are cinema, exhibitions, theater, and other performing arts, popular pastimes in Paris, but they are also the livelihood for performers, artists, and other relevant employees. The city, one of the most expensive in the world and viewed as a mecca for art lovers faces unique challenges brought by the epidemic.
Despite being confined to their homes, Parisians are pioneering creative ways to stay united. The #TousAuBalcon movement, which has over 11 thousand members on Facebook, encourages people to “Stay at home, save lives.” The hashtag translates to “all on the balcony” urges people to sing, dance, and whatever else with their neighbors without leaving their balcony, as to keep the social distance.
Similarly, the initiative #OnApplaudit (#WeApplaud) and #TousAlaFenêtre (All at the window) ask French people to gather at their windows every evening to applaud hospital workers returning home from their shifts.
Even with travel prohibitions and healthcare workers doing as much as they can, the death toll of Coronavirus in France reached 372 people as of Thursday, March 19th, an increase of 108 from the previous day. There are also almost 11 thousand active cases of COVID-19, a shocking number which illustrates just how imperative it is for the people of France to follow the measures enacted by the government.
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