Yes, it's a confinement post #RestezChezVous

I haven’t posted about Covid19 epidemic before – I leave the medical stuff to the experts. As an ordinary person, a ‘civilian’, I can see it’s an unknown killer that can sneak up on you for up to 14 days before it shows itself and against which we have no known cure. Effects vary from light flu-like symptoms to death. This makes it massively unpredictable and is ant the root of most anxiety.

We’re just finishing our second week of ‘confinement to barracks’ here in France which is an effort to create a medical firebreak in the spread of the disease. Here at Château Morton we’ve settled into a routine not much different from the usual one, but one coated with a hefty layer of wariness.

At the time of writing…

What we can’t do:

  • go out to a restaurant (which have all been closed since 15 March) or most shops
  • have your hair done (not the end of the world)
  • meet up with friends for coffee or dinner at their or our house
  • take long journeys
  • go to association meetings, the library or education courses
  • make non-essential visits to older relatives (we are the oldest in our family, so not a problem)
  • otherwise congregate

Yes, we have loo rolls in the supermarket!

What we can do

  • go to the local supermarket for food shopping – all marked up with one entrance and exit – red and white tape abounds
  • take a walk for up to an hour – no hardship in our rural part of France – with a dog if you have one (we don’t), but no further than a kilometre
  • go to medical appointments/collect prescriptions, etc.
  • work from home – no change there for this writer
  • dig up weeds, mow lawn, carry out those DIY projects that kept being ignored
  • read – I am blasting my Amazon Kindle account
  • interact via Skype and Zoom and, of course, by Facebook and Twitter

People can go to work within the legal restrictions, i.e. it must be essential and where you will be a minimum distance of a metre apart. If you’re called to go to court, you’re allowed to travel for that! And there’s that glorious French catch-all:

Participation à des missions d’intérêt général sur demande de l’autorité administrative.  

Almost untranslatable across the cultural barrier, but generally meaning “Participating in activities for the general good at the request of the appropriate administrative authority.”

Armed with our permits for our daily walk


And being France, you have to carry a piece of paper and your identity card even if you go out for a walk in the back end of nowhere! You self-certify each time using an official Ministry of the Interior form. But woe betide you if the gendarmes or police check you and you haven’t bothered to complete one and bring it with you – you’re in for a 135 euro fine rising by large steps if you don’t pay it within a certain time.

So how do we feel about all this?

Yes, we are anxious; we’d be mad not to be. It’s also boring, but not a hardship. For others, it means being cooped up with possibly fractious children in a small house. For some – mercifully few – it’s downright dangerous if there is a history of domestic abuse.

Children have been sent home with schoolwork to complete and the Ministry of Education is streaming classes. Children all do the same lesson at the same time all over France, so they follow the same syllabus. Teachers are delivering tutorials online either from home or from schools acting as centres for keyworkers’ children. Public broadcasters are supporting this with complimentary material.

Economically, it’s hard for small traders and artisans. However, when it initiated the lockdown the government implemented  a minimum wage based package for them plus they have undertaken to pay 80% of employees’ wages. All sorts of taxes, and social charges have been suspended – I can’t put it all in here! It’s going to be rough, but we will get through it.

Like everywhere else, there is a shortage of protective materials and gel, the health workers are working their socks off, retired medical and nursing staff have been recalled and the scientists are working flat out on remedies, tests and vaccinations.

Currently, we have just under 33,000 confirmed cases  and nearly 2000 deaths in France. (Update: 93,500 and 8,024 respectively on 6 April) And the peak is expected to be next week. Although very anxious about the virus, the public is backing President Macron’s measures.

My hands are dry and flaking and resemble something unearthed at midnight in a zombie movie; but they’ve never been so clean. I have a pair of stretch decorating gloves for when I go out to the supermarket – not very keen on touching the trolley or card payment keypad. Needless to say, the gloves get thoroughly cleaned when I come back.

If we have to do another two weeks, or three, then so be it.
UPDATE: the French Government has just announced an extension of confinement to 15 April.

Luckily, we have digital communications to help us in so many ways, but more than that, people here have stepped up to do shopping, run errands and support the health sector. The posties say they’ll stop delivering post if it means they can keep their service checking older residents running.

But then, with a few unscrupulous and unfeeling exceptions, humans do tend to care about each other.

Stay safe, stay at home. #RestezChezVous


Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers –  INCEPTIO,  PERFIDITAS,  SUCCESSIO,  AURELIA,  INSURRECTIO  and RETALIO.  CARINA, a novella, and ROMA NOVA EXTRA, a collection of short stories, are now available.  Audiobooks are available for four of the series. NEXUS, an Aurelia Mitela novella, is now out.

Find out more about Roma Nova, its origins, stories and heroines… Download ‘Welcome to Roma Nova’, a FREE eBook, as a thank you gift when you sign up to Alison’s monthly email newsletter. You’ll also be first to know about Roma Nova news and book progress before everybody else, and take part in giveaways.

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