Coronavirus epidemic: Parisians struggle to adapt to ‘social distancing’ as confinement looms

Coronavirus epidemic: Parisians struggle to adapt to 'social distancing' as confinement looms
As coronavirus spreads, the French government is imploring citizens to stay away from each other, but not everyone is heeding the warning it seems.

The parks, markets and boulevards of Paris remained busy this weekend, despite the pleas of Prime Minister Édouard Philippe who, on Saturday, had called on the nation to observe a policy of 'distanciation sociale', or 'social distancing', after banning gatherings of more than 100 people

The government's advice includes keeping a distance of one metre between yourself and others and taking care not to come into unnecessary contact with people, but that didn't stop large crowds from enjoying the sun in some of the capital's most popular hotspots including the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, the banks of the Canal St Martin and the Abbesses quarter.

Social media users were quick to point out the somewhat irresponsible nature of the gatherings.

Many people took to Twitter to voice their anger and frustration at the those who'd decided to go against the government's advice.

 

 

With a nation famed for its café culture already reeling from the closure of all restaurants and bars, it seems Parisians were desperate to enjoy what could prove to be a last weekend of freedom, at least for the time being.

The fact it was the first warm and sunny day of the year didn't help.

But it may be the last time Parisians are allowed out to do as they please.

According to the French newspaper the Journal de Dimanche, the government is considering even stricter containment methods, including a transition to complete lockdown in at least two regions: Grand-Est and Île-de-France, the region which contains Paris. Hospitals in both regions risk being overwhelmed if lack of compliance on this scale continues.

French president Emmanuel Macron will speak to the nation on Monday evening when it is expected he will announce new restrictions on life along the lines of confinement measures adopted in Italy and Spain.

On Monday there were growing calls among scientists and health chiefs that the only way to stem the spread of the virus was via forcing people to stay in their own homes.

“It's the only method we have today to limit the spread of the virus,” said Doctor Alain Ducardonnet, the helth consultant on French TV channel BFM TV.

“There is no vaccine so the only real vaccine is to limit the spread through individual discipline.”

Paris hospital chief  Djiallali Annan said “At the stage we are at, it's the only way to stop the spread of the virus.”

France's Health Minister Olivier Veran on Friday urged the public to limit contact and travel and to wash hands regularly.

“Respect social distancing, acknowledge someone rather than greet them physically, keep a metre distance and limit non-essential travel as well visits to the most vulnerable,” he said.


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