11 May 2020

You can come out now

France's first-phase déconfinement goes into effect today, but with new rules....

 "HEY! Modern Art & Pop Culture - Act IV" group exhibition
June 2019
Halle Saint-Pierre
bookstore / coffee shop / museum / gallery
 2 rue Ronsard 75018


They say that for an action to become a habit it has to be repeated at least seven times. When you think about it, the pandemic has managed to alter behaviors in a very short time.

Before leaving home there would be certain items I'd make sure I had on me - keys, cellphone, wallet, navigo (travel) card, sunglasses, small umbrella, lip gloss. Check. With the lockdown the list stayed the same, except added to it was mask, hand gel, filled-out attestation (an app on our phones) stating "acceptable" reasons for being outside and with it, I.D. to prove I was who I said I was - small adjustments that didn't take that much longer, but adjustments nevertheless. Now new habits.

Many became used to télétravail (working from home), discovering it suits them, with some opting to continue. Whittling life down to essentials was easier than thought, not to mention budget friendly. We don't know anyone who got into the very un-French habit of hanging around in a bathrobe all day and, if anything, it seemed people were creating schedules to wring the most out of each day. When it came to food shopping, many Parisians changed their behaviors to take best advantage of their sorties, resorting to bringing along a grocery list - something one usually doesn't see here. Food shops and chain markets remained open, yet most roving markets were forced to close: competing for that last hunk of monkfish or bunch or radishes entails elbowing up to the front of a stall, the antithesis of social distancing.

Shopping carts, caddies and baskets were heaped higher than usual - and not with toilet paper, as pointed out in a previous post: another French food shopping habit altered. Like most, we're used to picking up whatever we need for two, maybe three days at most at a time, and everything we need is within a block or two, which simplifies life. But since the start of the lockdown in March we'd stock up for extra days - en plus some shops had changed their hours and sadly, some had become collateral casualties on the heels of a two-month grève that had already weakened the economy.

Now that this first step of déconfinement has cautiously been set in motion, with it comes mixed feelings of hope and dread. For the past week, beneath the masks more chatting could be heard in what had been eerily silent lines. Or was that simply a result of being confined a bit too long? - BPJ

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