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France, and 55 Days and Nights of Confinement

May 16th, 2020 · No Comments · France, Quarantine, soccer, Sports

Maybe it’s me.

But I didn’t find 55 days of government-ordered Covid-19 quarantine, in our home in France, to be all that bad.

OK. It’s me.

I am not the most social person you know, and I can amuse myself pretty well, and our home is fairly comfortable; it has a balcony with a view of fields and vines …

Perhaps the key element of “being OK with 55 days of this” was the government’s allowance of one hour per day outdoors for “personal exercise”. I had to live up to two things: carrying with me an official attestation obligatoire explaining to any authorities who stopped me how and why I was going to be spending 60 minutes outside … and I could never be more than one kilometer from my front door.

The stick for enforcing compliance was pretty big — a fine of 135 euros for not having an attestation or for being outside the 1k limit.

To make clear, it was not as if there was a gendarme on every corner. Actually, I think I saw a gendarme, while outside, only three times in those 55 days. But the threat of 135 euros of punishment (about $150) reinforced my habits as someone who follows the rules.

The haziest part of this was the distance thing. Most of the walking was done safely within that 1k circle, but one bit on a dirt road on the edge of town probably took me to the brink. But I was never halfway to the next village, or anything like that.

For those of you reading this from the USA … the French confinement was more exacting. Only one person per car. Most every business closed for the duration, aside from grocery runs and other “essential” services. Walking a dog qualified as your “one outing per day”. I think Californians could walk dogs as many times as they wanted.

In California, anyway, it was more of a theoretical lockdown than one with teeth, as we had here. Most Cali residents apparently complied with government requests. But they did not have to show ID and a properly filled-out form to step outside.

What did we do all day?

Surfed the web. Listened to music. Read. A lot. I went through all three volumes of The Lord of the Rings (for about the 20th time) but also a 750-page Hilary Mantel book on England’s controversial Thomas Cromwell and Henry the Eighth.

We sat on the balcony on warm mornings. We walked in the afternoon. We cleaned up. We called relatives. We had dinner. (Leah cooked, I cleaned.) We watched our usual TV shows (Survivor, The Rookie, Jeopardy!) augmented by a couple of series we decided we liked — led by The Crown and The Morning Show. We watched French news every night at 8 to see how the virus was impacting the country.

I didn’t miss sports as much as I thought I would. The Premier League, and that’s about it. No arguing, though, how much sports is on TV, and it does leave a pretty big programming hole

When there was a stretch of time we perceived to be painfully dull … we would look for one of the old TV favorites — Friends, Modern Family, Big Bang Theory — and watch for 30 minutes or so. (One of the three of those is on every hour of the day or night.)

Now that things have loosened up, I find myself almost resistant to going back outside. We had outsiders in our home exactly three times in 55 days, and one was for rebooting electricity and another was to unclog a drain.

Staying indoors … it’s really hard to be strafed by the virus if you are alone — or safely within the “social distancing” parameters.

Despite finding it not all that great a burden to stay inside for 55 days … I certainly hope we never have to be part of another national self-quarantine. Because if we are, the virus is on the move again. Still.

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