COVID, Deconfinement and Masks

Although deconfinément is the current situation in France, and president Macron has stated that he has no intention of imposing another lockdown, the spread of Covid is being monitored. The alert threshold is being used to monitor the state of the epidemic and is partly calculated using the number of positive tests combined with the R number – which represents how many other people one ill person will go on to infect.

When this R number is less than one the virus is believed to be retreating, when it rises to 2 it’s spreading. Mainland France is currently at 1.05, but there are communes that skewer this figure as they have significantly higher rates.

One such area is Mayenne where the number of cases was at 45 and is now increased to 50.1. This is in contrast to the rest of France which has a threshold of 10.

Masks are now obligatory in enclosed spaces throughout France; a law which was brought forward from the 1st August and has applied since Monday due to the concerns of some communes. In the suffering Mayenne masks are even to be worn in some public areas.

I’m a fan of twitter and both sides of the debate seems to have hit almost a religious fever there. The culture wars seems to mark it’s territory quickly now huh? I’m grateful for people who argue for the protection of the health of others, but I’m equally grateful for others who challenge the mandatory wearing of masks.

Like many people in the generational middle I have parents who I’m concerned about, but also my children. With all the hand washing and mask wearing I wonder how they will develop resilience to illness if they can’t develop immunity not just from Covid, but from anything? What affect will raising them in a sanitary bubble have on their future health?

The destruction of the Martian invaders in the War of the Worlds, finally felled by the common cold, comes to mind.

Their world will be so different to ours in many ways. Today my daughter wandered into the sitting room announcing that she thought the playroom should have arrows on the floor. Evidently accepting as normal now the arrow markings and signs showing us which direction to walk in, where to stand etc.

I’m attending mass almost daily now. As the restrictions continue like many others we face an uncertain future. Living in a country where French is our second language this is very concerning. It feels as if the options to find other employment are limited for us.

The good news is that our friendship circle is strengthening and expanding. Over the last week we’ve had various little friends of the children over to play and I’ve sat with the parents for a coffee for half an hour at least, chatting in French. Today was one such play date and I had a conversation with two sets of parents for at least 2.30 hours on a variety of subjects and even managed to follow the conversation between two parties for about 30 minutes. That’s a milestone.

The conversation was centering around Covid and the confinement. For some in the village it was very hard as they have no garden, so they were confined to their house for the majority of the day.

Inevitably we were all worried about work and the long term, economic impact of the response to the pandemic. Our friends were saying how their folks had struggled with their being unable to visit. Their child was the first grandchild and contact was, naturally, painfully missed.

Better times will come though. I’m taking one of our neighbours children to a puppet show in the village tonight. I’ll let you know soon how it went.


This week France started to open its doors again. We had been searching the government sites – would our region be red, amber or green. Thankfully there have been few deaths in Normandy, so we were poised to join the world.

School was due to start receiving classes on Thursday for the pupils whose parents had deemed it safe enough for them to return. It was to be a staggered, with different pupils going on the Thursday and others the Friday. The teaching team wanted to make sure that all pupils understood the safety requirements so were taking the time to go through things with each group.

During the restrictions my girls footwear had been made obsolete; their winter boots now too small and impractical for the warmer spring weather. So we needed to Go to the shops to buy something more suitable.

It was interesting to see how each store approached the situation. In the first one we went to, the shoe shop, I couldn’t enter without a mask. Although my girls could. We had to sanitise our hands at the entrance too. In others there wasn’t the mask requirement, but there was hand sanitiser and also latex gloves available. There was someone to meet you at the entrance cleaning trolley handles and ensuring social distancing. However within the shops, despite guidelines on the floor, there was little occurring in the aisles. We’re all just used to going up and down aisles looking at things, so it seems to be forgotten.

Just prior to the girls returning to school we went to the market. It had a one way system, with masked guides on each end with the hand sanitiser. There weren’t many stalls and few people.

The guidelines for returning to school were clearly layed out before hand;

  • A staggered approach depending on age, so there weren’t too many people around the gates.
  • Marked sections of a one way system.
  • All staff wearing masks.
  • The first day to be spent on hand washing and social distancing instructions.
  • Pre schoolers are only taught in the morning, and parents encouraged to pick them up at midday.
  • Staggered leaving times.
  • Separate pick up points around the school so not too many adults congregate.
  • Children remaining indoors until called to maintain their social distancing.

We have been told that there may be alternate school days come June when all pupils will be back.

The girls were excited to be back. We missed them. The house is suddenly very quiet.

Covid 19 Confinement

As I’ve been getting stronger I’ve started to gradually do more. Yet, like many people we have the prospect of wondering how this pandemic will be affecting us as a family. My husband works with the cruise industry, obviously it’s been very affected by the current situation. So as he works each evening to prepare for the lifting of restrictions, and we hope and pray for our financial future, I’ve been looking at how I can help.

To me one of the good things about being a stay at home mum is that when we face financial difficulty their may be ways in which I can help. When both spouses are working and your expenditure matches that two fold income, there may not be a similar resource to draw from. So I’ve recently been completing a course online to teach English as a foreign language, and possibly French too. I’m a former teacher anyway, so this may be a way to provide an additional income source whilst staying at home God willing.

In France itself we had the exciting prospect of some the restrictions of the confinement (as it’s called here) lifted. There was news that the maternal children would be going back on 11th May. I was incredibly relieved. I’ve been teaching my youngest daughter to read here at home and she’s doing wonderfully. As I’ve said before her speech has been really impacted upon by the move and other issues, so reading has developed this significantly.

However I’m teaching her in English, as we don’t have a lot of French children’s books for her age group. We’ve bought them for her, but she’s ripped and scribbled on them. There’s nothing more frustrating is there? This phase stopped a lot earlier with my eldest daughter because she was reading from the age of three onwards, but our youngest’ speech proved a negative factor here too.

So, no books and my poor pronunciation meant I’ve concentrated on English. That and zero contact with the outside world has meant I’ve been very worried about her losing what little French she has. These are extraordinary times, but the consequences are significant for those kiddos struggling at school.

Yesterday we left the house and suddenly we were chatting with two neighbours. I’ve got to say no one seemed to consider social distancing, 😬. One of our neighbours said the mid May date wasn’t a definite, in fact she wasn’t confident of it at all. So I’ll have to phone on Monday and make sure, my other neighbour suggested speaking with the Maire as they would be the person to make the decision.*

Our neighbours had experienced the police stopping them, which we’ve fortunately avoided. One was spoken to about going for a loaf of bread 😬 and she’d heard from a friend that she’d been reprimanded going for baby nappies as these “weren’t essential” – 😬 😱. I can’t thing of a lot more things that are essential than nappies from the grocery store.

Whilst I’ve been ill my husband started to take the girls out on long walks. For the first time I went with them on Friday, and I joined them Saturday too. I thought I’d share some photos of the local scenery.

God bless you all; I hope you and your family are well.

  • It’s been confirmed that the village school with be reopening on 11th. Whopee!