No.14~St. Colomban~August 29, 2020

An update on the downside: masks are now required on all Paris streets

One thing we can say for certain: French authorities are not hesitant about responding when they see a need for increased protocol against the spread of the coronavirus.

In my last post two weeks ago, I wrote about how the Paris police department had just released a city map showing streets where masks would be required. After residents complained that they would have to memorize portions of the list of 103 streets in order to comply with the order, officials promptly released a new map, showing mask-wearing zones, rather than streets. This week, in a press conference on Thursday, Jean Castex, the new Prime Minister, hinted that the entire city was being considered for the protocol, softening the blow by saying that the idea was still being studied. But before the end of the day, the mayor’s office announced that masks would indeed be mandatory on all city streets starting at 8:00 am yesterday morning. Mask wearing is also required of office workers. Bikers and joggers are exempted.

As one official put it, “Hospitalizations are slowly but surely going up.” Paris is one of 19 departments recently declared “red zones,” bringing the total of “red” departments to 21. Just a week ago, there were only 9 red zone departments.

France is testing for Covid-19 more than ever, but even though the percentage of positive test continues to increase, as Castex noted at his press conference, France is better prepared than it was back in March. Still, this does not lessen the blow of city-wide mask wearing. Every day, more French cities join the protocol, with Marseille and Strasbourg among them.

Here in Brittany, we discovered that the quaint port of Lochmariaquer is also requiring masks in the streets. It seemed theatrical to be wearing a mask there, with the wind gusting yesterday to 20 mph and just a few people walking around — stragglers enjoying the last week before school starts.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m pro-mask. In addition to offering protection, wearing a mask instills responsibility and a sense of community, acting as a reminder that we are in a pandemic. Our life here has few other reminders. Carnac and Carnac Plage (Carnac Beach) have not yet mandated masks in the streets. Those are the areas where we do most of our shopping. So the pandemic requires of us only to keep a mask on hand, and then remember to put it on before we go in a store — a small lift in the fight against the virus.

A busy social calendar has cornered me into a shorter post this time, but I can tell you that on our walks, we’ve been sheltering under trees from downpours interrupted by sunshine, as the weather tries its hand at autumn. And the hay fields are turning from brown to green. There is comfort in that.

Number Box

Over 7,000 new cases were recorded in France in the last 24 hours, according to an announcement this morning by the Director of Health. The announcement described the increase as “exponential.” The number of new cases has not been this high since March.

The percentage of tests coming back positive nationwide has increased from 3.6 to 3.9 in two weeks. The “R” factor is 1.4.

In France, a department is declared “red” when new cases exceed 50 per 100,000 inhabitants per week.
In the U.S., the threshold is 100 per 100,000.

Since August 17, 700 fines per day have been levied in France for failure to wear a mask. The fine is €135.

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Photo: Lochmariaquer from the coastal trail, under the fair skies we had earlier this summer. JK photo.
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Reading List: Whether or not you are a fan of oysters, I recommend “The Oysters of Lochmariaquer” by Eleanor Clark.
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