The sea was shining brilliantly early this morning when I ventured down for a look. Under normal circumstances, there would be swimmers in the water, but, in this seventh week of confinement, the sea remained unperturbed. I crossed the street to the beach side, avoiding the forbidden area of the Promenade itself, and drank in the glorious unbroken sight. By the official arrival of summer, the joggers, walkers and circus acts certainly will be back. Already, a few brazen scofflaws were biking or walking, far out of sight of the police.
It’s summery hot outside. Oh yes, it will be punishingly hotter before long, but shorts, sandals and sunblock, for whatever part of your skin is not covered by a mask, are de rigeur already. Thoughts turn to summer travel, but the Interior Minister has advised everyone not to make reservations, at least not outside France.
From May 11 to June 2, the first déconfinement period begins, following the downward slide in new coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and fatalities. We will be allowed to travel 100 kilometers without the “attestation de déplacement” which means long walks will again be possible. Since our department of the Alpes-Maritime has just been designated a green zone, the safest of the three colored categories, the parks should re-open too. Soon, we’ll be walking regularly to our local favorite, the Estienne d’Orves hilltop park filled with ancient olive trees and populated with wild boar.
School will resume, on a parental volunteer basis. We’ll see how successful that turns out to be. The two mothers with small children who I have spoken with have told me they will not risk their children returning for the rest of the school year. Elsewhere in France, mayors are asking for a delay.
Retail stores, hair salons, dry cleaners, small museums but not restaurants, cafes or cinemas, will open under restrictions guiding their operations. The government has published 48 different guides, covering as many professions, outlining their particular safety protocols for staff and visitors. I assume that will mean just a few people entering at a time, personnel wearing masks, plexiglass barriers at the checkout, hand cleansing gel dispensers, as is the case at grocery stores at present. The open-air markets will resume too, a welcome sign of life renewed.
The Promenade, for now, will remain off-limits.
Masks are appearing in pharmacies and grocery stores and selling out. We have a small stash, to save until the next lockdown. I’d say about half the people outside are wearing them, sometimes pulled down over their chins to expose their vulnerable mouths and noses. That makes it easier to smoke, though.
The government has extended the health state of emergency through July 24, meaning if there is a Covid-19 uptick after déconfinement a quarantine can be slapped back on quickly. Because it seems everyone believes there will be another one.