This weekend, with today, Friday, a French holiday to celebrate the anniversary of VE day, or 8 mai 1945, could very well be our last weekend spent in confinement against the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus, at least for those of us in the North West, South West and South East quarters of France.

Yesterday, the 7th of May, the French government unveiled its latest map showing which départements and regions of the country will have to remain in some measure of lockdown, classed as red zones, and those in green who will be lucky enough to move toward a return to normal life starting on the 11th of May, after 7 long weeks in a fairly strict lockdown.

The first phase

On Monday the process of “déconfinement” begins, and whether a département was classed yesterday as a red or green zone has a bearing on what this phase of easing the lockdown will actually mean.  Happily, the majority of France is green on the map, with only the North East quarter of the ‘hexagone’, including Paris, coloured in red.

If, over the next three weeks of this first phase, the parts of the country in the green zone remain classed as green (that’s to say that the virus does not gain a hold or show any signs of spreading, or lead to hospitals being overwhelmed), then at the beginning of June a further step may be taken to reopen more aspects of French life, including cafés and restaurants, still maintaining, of course, sufficient measures of social distancing against any spread of the virus.

Our département, Tarn et Garonne, as expected, is classed as a green département.  We are extremely lucky to have seen very few cases of coronavirus in the South West, and Tarn et Garonne is one of the least affected départements in the whole of France.

What will this new-found freedom mean for Green départements?

From Monday most shops will be open, not just food shops or those classed as essential. Markets will re-open. We will no longer have to fill in the dreaded “Attestation de Déplacement” travel certificate every time we step out of our own front gate or get into the car to go shopping, and we will be able to travel up to 100km, as the crow flies, from home, without having to provide any justification of our journey or purpose. We will be able to meet up with friends, visit family members, and the youngest school-age children will be able to start going back to school; libraries, small museums, parks and gardens will re-open to the public – all still under measures of social distancing, including, in many cases, wearing face masks.

This is quite a big step. Currently, apart from a permitted journey, alone, to get essential supplies from the nearest shops, our enforced boundary has been 1 kilometre from our homes for exercise, and for only 1 hour a day.

Below are the definitive maps for this stage of déconfinement that the government unveiled yesterday. See if you can find Tarn et Garonne: our département number is 82. The first map shows the areas where COVID-19 is thought to be still active and circulating in France, and the second map shows which areas have been classed red or green for this first phase of easing the lockdown.

The situation will be reviewed by the French government at the end of May to see whether the next phase can be implemented from the 2nd of June until the summer.

We will keep you in touch with developments on this blog, especially concerning a possible future lifting of restrictions on tourism.  If you would like to find out more ‘from the horse’s mouth’ there is a useful page in English at the French government website dedicated to COVID-19 news on the following link: https://www.gouvernement.fr/en/coronavirus-covid-19

Another good source of French news in English is The Local France online newspaper: https://www.thelocal.fr/

 

 

 

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