by Jane Rosenstein
This is a first-hand report on social conditions in Paris, France during the coronavirus pandemic. On May 11, 2020, the quarantine will be over. Starting May 4, masks will be delivered to people at their residences and in the subway; It will be compulsory to wear masks in public transportation in Paris; I do not know how they will distribute masks for the buses. Currently, people have to ride behind the security tape which protects the driver.
May 11 begins the progressive return of children to school starting with the younger ones first; There is a lot of controversy about this and some parents will not let their children go to school. Class sizes will be limited but it will be difficult for young children to stay a meter away from classmates and teachers. What about lunch at school? Returning to school is not compulsory and 63% of the French people interviewed think it is a bad decision;
Bars and restaurants may be opened in mid-June but that time is not certain.
Now that the weather is nice and sunny, people in Paris want to go out but they are in quarantine and need to have a paper or form on their mobile telephones stating the reason that they are out and even the time they left their residence; The reasons acceptable for being out of their homes are to buy food, to go for healthcare including pharmacies and physicians, to walk a pet, governmental reasons and to go out for one hour of exercise within a 1 km. distance from their residences. The fines are now 135 Euros for a first offense and go up higher for third-time offenders violating the rules in one month to 3,750 Euros and 6 months in prison if the police do not accept the attestations (documents signed by individuals).
People can go out to exercise in Paris for one hour but not from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. No group exercises but I see plenty of children playing ball together (not practicing physical distancing) in front of apartments before 7 p.m.
Public transportation is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. On the bus there is a security tape in the back of the driver so that passengers have to ride in the back of the bus. There is no machine to put the ticket or pass in so all passengers ride free. Saving some money on this one. There is an electric sign that states not to signal the bus to stop to contact with the button as the bus stops at all bus stops.
Hotels are closed and boarded up in some areas. It is sad to see this and the flowers outside the hotels needing water. I saw one hotel that was open and talked to the receptionist. He told me that he could not tell me about the guests but when I told him I wanted to know as a journalist which people were there, he told me that people whose flights home were canceled stayed there and some workers. Imagine not being able to return home and paying for an expensive hotel.
Uber Eats is busy with motorcycle deliveries. The kebab places and pizzerias in my neighborhood are selling take out orders.
Chen Market in Belleville, which I reported as closed opened a week ago Tuesday but closes at 5:30 p.m. I told one of the ladies who worked there, when I saw her at the door, that I did not know it was open and bought food across the street at Paris Store. She told me to come back to Chen Market before 5:30.
Pharmacists renew old prescriptions because many people can not see their doctors. Very few doctor’s offices and pharmacies are open.
Veterinarians are open but the optical stores are closed. Broken eyeglasses could be a problem!
Last Friday I went to the post office to check on a package; The post office was open three days last week: Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. After waiting over 30 mins in line to get in, the postal employee told me my package was in the process of being delivered and to come back on Wednesday if I did not receive it by then; As soon as I got home and took off my shoes as Carol Duff of Veterans Today advised, a postal delivery employee called me and said he was at my door. He dropped the package inside the entrance without even waiting for me to go downstairs.
Postal delivery is better now with 4 days the following two weeks not Friday. May 1 is our Labor Day.
Fruit and vegetables are expensive now. Open markets with vegetables for 1 Euro per kilo are not open now. Luckily I found a man selling red peppers; tomatoes, potatoes, and other vegetables and fruit from his truck near the cheapest market in Paris. The quality is good and prices are reasonable. He charges 2.50 Euros for the red peppers and told me he pays 2.00 Euros for them.
The police closed the internet services at a nearby shop. The man can make photocopies for his clients who have to hand him the papers from outside.
I was surprised on Wednesday to notice a dry cleaning shop open selling masks for 5 Euros each. Pressing de l’Avenue in Paris opened one day before.
People in France are waiting for the Minister of Health and President Macron to go on television with further updates.
For now, this is the pandemic situation in Paris.