Last Updated on 23rd November 2020 by Sophie Nadeau
It’s been almost a month since we entered Confinement 2.0 in Paris and, simultaneously, that time seems to have flown by and passed at the speed of a snail. The lockdown feels familiar to the first one in the finding of routines, being frustrated by exercise limits, and nightly catch up video calls with friends and family across the world.
Conversely, this lockdown feels less stressful than the first and, more than anything, I just feel fatigued, as opposed to the intense anxiety and sleepless nights of the last one. I’ve spoken to a few friends and many feel the same way. We are much more informed now, we are equipped with masks, and we know more about the safety precautions we can take to ourselves and those around us (if we are allowed to be near anyone- more on that later).
Masks are mandatory every single time you leave the house here in Paris. If you don’t have a reasonable reason for not wearing a mask (i.e. you don’t have a medical reason, you’re not eating/ drinking/ smoking) then you’re liable to an on-the-spot fine of over €100 if you’re caught without one. Bear in mind that the fine has to be paid by post (par la poste). This is France, after all, and if you’re asked to hand over money right there and then, it’s a scam.
What are the rules in Confinement 2.0 in France?
I’ve been receiving quite a few messages on various social media platforms (I know people always say this, but this time I actually have!) about living in Paris, and more generally in France, these days. I’ve even received messages asking to confirm that we’re still in lockdown!
We are technically in full lockdown, though since many more businesses are allowed to be open for takeaway/ collection and the fact that schools are also open has led to many people dubbing this a ‘lockdown lite’.
With this being said, the France lockdown is nothing like that of Germany where cases are lower and freedoms of the general population are much greater. It’s true that it’s full of people in some areas outside and sometimes I forget we’re in lockdown when I walk around because it’s pretty busy out there (since every small business and office is operating takeaway and collection services and everyone is making the most of outdoor exercise)!
Just like in Confinement 1, you’re only allowed out for exercise (once more limited to an hour within a 1km radius of your home- a measure that has drawn much criticism considering the importance of exercise to mental and physical health!), for work (if your work can’t be done remotely), for essential shopping (though, as I’ll touch on, the list of ‘essential’ shops is much longer than the last lockdown), and for medical reasons.
You need to fill in a form every time you leave the house and there are random police spot checks. I haven’t been stopped yet but I have seen a few attestation checks in my neighbourhood and other friends told me that they’ve been checked/ seen checks in their areas. You have to have the form filled out correctly, and if you don’t and you’re checked, you face a fine of over €100.
Being caught without a properly filled out attestation three times can leave you liable to a six month prison sentence. Pretty serious stuff. More than anything else, the psychological aspect of having to fill out a ‘permission form’ just to leave your home, collect your kids from school, go for a walk or buy some baguette is really tough on everyone and downright exhausting. You can take a look at the full form here.
Can you form a support bubble in France?
One thing that I have really struggled to deal with this time around is the fact that you’re not allowed to form a support bubble here in France. That is to say, if you live alone and work from home, you’re not allowed to see anyone. at. all.
It’s simply tough luck and you are legally not allowed to see anyone. Someone asked me if you’re allowed to meet up with a friend who also lives alone in your neighbourhood for a walk. If you do this and you’re caught, then you could technically both face a fine since you’re seeing someone from outside your household.
Obviously this move has drawn a lot of criticism because it’s not really okay to expect people to spend weeks/ months alone confined to 1km of their homes (especially after already spending months alone during the first lockdown). If we have further lockdowns in the future, I really hope that France considers implementing support bubbles, at the very least for single adults living alone.
What’s open in France?
During the last lockdown, only supermarkets and pharmacies were open. I think that even many routine doctor’s appointments were cancelled. People knew less during the last confinement and so were less likely to venture outside. I personally left my flat just once every 10 days or so for groceries and many of my friends did the same thing.
This time, things are different. I make sure to make the most of the exercise allowance and go for a walk every single day for my mental and physical wellbeing. On days when I feel particularly down, this really helps me to feel a little bit better. I also feel much safer walking around.
During the last Paris confinement, I would often be the only person for streets around. There were very few people about and I was followed around and harassed a lot. Many of my female friends recounted similar experiences to me.
This time around, almost all of my friends tell me that they also go for a walk every day. The other difference this time that makes going out that much better is that all of the parks are allowed to be open. During the last lockdown, even all of the parks were closed and so I think I saw literally maybe one tree in a period of over two months!
This time around, as soon as the new measures were announced, all ‘non-essential’ businesses were forced to shut. The only places allowed to stay open were supermarkets, hardware shops, electronic stores, and the like. Banks, mobile phone shops, etc are all also allowed to stay open.
Considering that small businesses had to shut their doors while supermarkets could continue selling Christmas decorations and Fnac (an electronics retailer) could carry on selling books, there was plenty of outrage and so, within a week or so, larger ‘essential stores’ were forced to block-off their ‘non-essential’ aisles.
Confinement 1 vs Confinement 2.0
To say that this lockdown has been easy would be a lie, but it’s certainly nothing like the lockdown we experienced in the spring (you can read my thoughts about the first Paris lockdown here). Alternatively, you can read what I thought a few weeks into the first Paris lockdown here.
If you’re curious about what life was like between the first lockdown and the second lockdown, you can read my thoughts on ‘post confinement France‘. My friends and I often now joke that we’re professionals at dealing with lockdowns and, to be honest, I’m personally pretty used to spending weeks and months on my own at this point (a sentence I never thought I’d have to write!)
A day in my life in reconfinement (re-lockdown)
On a normal day in lockdown, I wake up around 9-10 AM. I know that’s pretty late in the day, but I’ve fallen into an unfortunate habit of staying up until 2 or 3 in the morning while sat working at my desk.
I’ll have a coffee and scroll through my emails, replying to anything that’s urgent and starting on my Instagram stories for the day. I’ll also call my mum. It’s crazy to think it’s been almost a year since I saw my parents and sister and granny… or anyone I’m related to!
Then, I’ll head to my desk to start updating old blog posts, editing the photos, and the like. I’ll carry on doing this and watch some TV in the background until around 4PM when I force myself to go out on my hour long walk. If I need more baguette or wine or vegetables, I’ll also go to the supermarket or boulangerie during my hour long walk.
When I get back home, I do some more work, complete some household chores (I mostly live in a huge mess), call friends, and play on my Nintendo Switch. The Switch has, hands down, been the best purchase of my year so far! My all-time favourite games are Animal Crossing & Zelda BoTW.
Around 9 or 10 PM, I’ll make myself dinner, usually a risotto, veggie noodle bowl, or some sort of vegetable curry. The only thing I’ve really improved on this year in terms of #adulting is my cooking (haha!) I’ll then have a glass of wine (or two) and do some more work while watching TV. As you can see, my days are honestly pretty boring!
In some way I’m lucky to be able to stay at home and be safe, though in others I crave human interaction. I feel guilty every time I feel sorry for myself. However, I also miss seeing people I know (seeing anyone I know) and getting enough outdoor exercise. More than anything, it’s not like I can even say I’m fortunate enough to be making my previous income while sat at home.
Obviously most of my work is in the tourism industry (like 1/10 people in the world) and so I have been well and truly been financially hit by 2020 (like many of you). I feel fortunate that I started this year with savings since I’ve spent the past few years saving almost all of my income after bills with the view to eventually buying a flat (obviously this is now a dream that’s further away than ever).
During the last lockdown, I started a new site, The City Wild, and it’s purposely a lifestyle site which has nothing to do with travel so my traffic (and income) isn’t hit every time new travel bans are announced. I just joined Mediavine with the site and I’m excited to grow this new arm of my writing career.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that everyone has some sort of stress to deal with, and that it’s completely valid to feel that stress (even if your personal problems seem trivial when compared to everything else going on in the world, and 2020 has taught us there’s an awful lot going on).
I try and remind myself that I’m in a fortunate position to have a nice place to call home, to be in Paris, to have some work still. In terms of travel, seeing loved ones, and jobs, with vaccine news on the horizon, I’m holding out hopes that next year will be better for us all. Stay safe!