How the French Have Dealt With the Coronavirus

Isabelle in her Paris apartment overlooking the River Seine.

I still have a hard time realizing it has been a year since the first lockdown in France. It was March 17, 2020.

We have been on a rollercoaster since in Paris. We’ve experienced ups and downs that have been very hard on people emotionally.

When we started to be able to get out of our houses last year in April at first, then in May, and finally in June, it was like seeing the light at the end of the tunnel!

People had so much hope, even though the government was warning us that it was not over, and we needed to stay safe and cautious.

Well, it was totally understandable being locked down at home without seeing family, coworkers, and friends with young children. For some it had been very harsh as it was their first experience of its kind.

We couldn’t say that we knew how to handle a pandemic, how to react emotionally, or how to be prepared financially.

Homeless people, refugees, and immigrants have also been profoundly affected by this pandemic.

The younger generation suffered so much from separation from their friends, and travelling restrictions as the governments decided to close the frontiers.

Many of them lost their part-time jobs as well, a job that was helping them to pay their rent to parents who were not able to support them financially. A lot had to go back to live at their folks’ home, no matter what kind of relationship they might have had. Getting along or not with the parents was not the topic of the day. They had to survive.

So, we embraced summer time 2020 with so much joy and excitement that we became a little bit less cautious, and a little bit more reckless. Needless to say that the French people wanted to break free!

Mother nature was calling on us! Hence, a lot of people travelled in Europe. Hotels in seaside towns or holiday homes for rent were all booked. People were gathering in local restaurants, bars, and night clubs.

They forgot a little to keep a certain distance between them. They were so happy to see each other. The young people left the social distancing on the side. They were craving for freedom and for fun so much.

For a short period of time, we believed that the virus was almost gone. However, the Government had kept warning us that COVID-19 positives cases were increasing. So, of course the threat became more and more alive as the government asked people to work from home again if they could. The nightmare grew when the media started to talk about the UK Variant, the South African Variant, and the Brazilian Variant. Whatever the new name of the virus is today we are in lockdown during the weekend for some cities like Nice or Dunkerque, and the curfew is at 6 p.m. in Paris.

In contrast, the spread of the COVID-19 (the UK variant) keeps worrying the French health authorities as it is said to be 64% more deadly than classic COVID. The French government announced on March 11 conditions to enter and exit the country were to be made easier for seven non-EU countries, including the United Kingdom, Israel and Japan. Starting on March 12, epidemic-related restrictions were eased off for travelers coming from and coming to the country.

Meanwhile, the race for the COVID vaccine had begun and scientists around the world were working faster than ever to develop and produce vaccines that can stop he spread of COVID-19. Thankfully after a shy “début” in France, the vaccination has finally taken off. Therefore, as of this writing, 7.24% received the first dose and 3.29% received the two doses.

A lot of people remain to be vaccinated, but it’s a good start. It allows us to breathe again and to get a fleeting glimpse of the end of the tunnel.

Stay safe, keep hope and keep fighting!

By Isabelle Viguier

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