France is now in its 3rd week of a decline in both deaths and patients in ICU wards due to Covid-19. Therefore, just like our neighbours in Switzerland and Italy, we are getting ready to start gradual deconfinement.
During his speech at the National Assembly on Tuesday Prime Minister Edouard Philippe presented his deconfinement plan, encompassing several measures for health, school, transport and even stores.
If the statistics from the hospitals remain favourable, from Monday May 11, movement will be allowed again - within 100 km of home for the time being. This is a welcome release as we have been allowed only 1km from home for a long time now. Public transport will be back to normal as soon as possible enabling ease of movement once again.
We will be able to enjoy our local parks, villages and lakes of our local area. And of course, we will be able to walk the hiking trails all around Mont Blanc. The Tour du Mont Blanc still has snow on it in many areas, as the season doesn’t start until June. However, there are many parts of the trail that we can now enjoy. One of my favourites in Spring is the area around La Charousse which has a number of beautiful Alpine chalets set in wide meadows, with beautiful views. Postcard and chocolate box material for sure!
As well as getting to enjoy longer trips in nature, more shops and offices will be open and we won’t need our papers signed to go out of the house. Schools are likely to begin a gradual phased opening too, so life will begin to feel a little more natural. Small local museums, libraries and art galleries will gradually be opening their doors once again - on the condition less than 10 people are inside. Larger public places, bars, restaurants and theatres will have to wait until phase 2 at the beginning of June.
Simple things like chatting to neighbours and meeting friends are going to feel wonderful even though this will be limited to a maximum of 10 people for now. But it’s exciting to think about the potential to have 10 people I know, in the same place, at the same time and not on Zoom!
We have all learned to be cautious and I think the government’s approach to easing the restrictions is a measured one: May 11th should see new benefits to everyone across the country. The virus will be strictly monitored, and we can only look forward to the next phase of openings, scheduled for June the 2nd, if the number of cases does not spike once again. If there are peaks in an area, restrictions will be applied to the departments affected, without blocking the entire country.
As the old proverb goes “ne’er cast a clout ‘til May be out”…A stop-and-go approach - that coupled with widespread testing (700,000 people per week) and subsequent self-isolation we hope should keep the virus at bay.
A welcome step towards returning to some sense of normality. Sure, it won’t be the same as before but it’s going to be better than sitting on the side-lines, waiting. And I’m really hopeful that together, we can shape our “new normal” towards something better.