The latest COVID-19 coronavirus and travel news from Provence

The latest COVID-19 coronavirus and travel news from Provence

The latest COVID-19 coronavirus and travel news from Provence

It is incredible to think that it has been almost two months at the time of writing this article that all of France has been placed in a strict confinement zone which has prevented anyone from leaving their home. As in the rest of the world, there were of course a few exceptions such as permission to exercise or shop for food, but in general the message (and the law!) Was clear. Stay at home!

It was therefore with great enthusiasm (and a certain apprehension) that the strict locking rules were relaxed by the French government on May 11. This relaxation is intended to be the first step for a baby towards a return to normal life and has been welcomed by many people across France. It is also planned to start authorizing travel so that part of the summer can be recuperated during the holidays.

What restrictions have been lifted?

There have been significant changes to the locking laws that allow people to start enjoying a sense of normalcy.

Schools

The relaxation of lockout restrictions allows children to return to kindergarten and elementary school. The first wave of schoolchildren authorized to enter the classroom totals approximately 20% of school-aged children in France. It is planned to allow high schools to open from 18e May be in areas where infections are low. In late May, the government will decide whether to authorize the reopening of high schools in June.

Stores

Most stores (except cafes, bars and restaurants) have been allowed to open. This excludes stores in shopping centers / malls. The queues at the checkouts during the first two days attested to the fact that people across France had a large stock to do, having been deprived of the possibility of shopping elsewhere than in supermarkets for almost two month.

Hairdressers are among those authorized to open, much to the relief of the general population! I think it is fair to say that the hairdressers will be busy for a considerable time.

Cafes, bars and restaurants

As a nation celebrated for its gastronomic and coffee culture, it has been particularly difficult for the population to be deprived of the possibility of having a coffee with friends or a convivial meal in a local family restaurant. And of course, for those who own these establishments, life has been particularly difficult. The French government wants to authorize the opening of these sites as soon as possible and it is planned to lift the restrictions on 15e June.

Exercise and meet friends and family

Before 11e May, it was strictly forbidden to meet with friends and family. In fact, even leaving the house was a mini bureaucratic exercise because you had to fill out and carry a “special travel certificate” that indicated why you were away from home. Fortunately, since 11e of May, this is no longer a requirement. You are allowed to go out as often as you like and can travel freely in your own county (province). If you wish to travel to another province, you can do so as long as your destination is not more than 100 km (as the crow flies) from your home). This restriction should be lifted by the end of May.

Meetings with friends and family are now allowed as long as the group is limited to ten people maximum. However, you cannot get together in bars, cafes and restaurants (difficult to do since they closed). You also cannot meet as a group on a beach. However, this relaxation is certainly welcome. Beaches that should be noted are not prohibited while you are there to exercise, swim, etc. Sunbathing is unfortunately still absent.

Travel in France

Frustrating, but completely understandable, traveling to France in the immediate future will still not be possible in many regions of the world. That said, the French government recognizes the considerable importance of the tourism industry for France and clearly wishes to allow travel to resume as soon as possible.

The good news for international travelers (in a roundabout way) is that it is planned to allow those who already reside in France to start going on vacation in France with more information on what (and will not be) early June. Traditionally, many French public holidays in July or August and the French government believes that it would be extremely problematic if this were not allowed this year. It is clear that the most important thing is that infection rates continue to drop, but it is encouraging to see that, if possible, holidays in France (for French residents) will be allowed.

So what is the silver lining for international tourists in all of this? Well, quite simply, if hotels and restaurants are allowed to open, they can upgrade. It is difficult to move from fully closed to fully staffed and open overnight. So let’s hope that when international tourists are allowed to return to France, things will go well for them to enjoy the relaxed holiday they will certainly deserve!

So when can foreign visitors be allowed to return to Provence? While there is nothing definite, the signs are that if infection rates continue to drop, you may be able to enjoy a vacation here starting in August. Since August, September and October are wonderful months here in Provence, this is exciting news!

It has been a difficult period of two months for everyone affected by this horrible virus around the world. The partial lifting of locking restrictions, here in France and in several other European countries, is promising. I hope that wherever you are, you and your family stay well. Hopefully, it will not be long before we can welcome you back to Provence. For my part, I cannot wait!

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