Coronavirus: Parisians eager to ‘get rid’ of virus on day one of second lockdown

Paris is a strange place to be on this first morning of a new lockdown.

Usually here you need to navigate the mass of people, the crazy traffic. There are some people and vehicles out there but it’s the first time I’ve see the road around the Arc De Triomphe with free flowing traffic.

On the usually busy streets nearby where you expect to queue for a morning coffee, the cafes, bars and restaurants are shut – the area missing the pulse of the people.

At the entrance of one of the cafes, we spot two women talking.

They are customer and restaurant manager.

They are also friends as Gisela Pietra lives next door and tells me she comes in every morning for her espresso and every night with her husband for a glass of wine.

Gisela has come to say goodbye to Melissa Albano, who is here this morning to clear out the fridge and shut up the restaurant for the next month, as part of the lockdown to tackle the rise in COVID-19 cases.

Both women say they are sad because the area where they live is like family.

But they accept the lockdown is necessary.

“We have to get rid of this,” says Gisela, adding: “Once the government told us to wear a condom to be safe, now it’s a mask.”

Melissa says she will get some money from the government but it will be tough, and she will miss her customers.

Across the street there is one shop where the doors are open and people are arriving.

It’s an office supplies store and deemed essential to keep businesses running.

Inside we find Francois Creux whose family have run the shop since 1913 – staying open even when his grandfather was forced to fight in the First World War for four years.

He tells me they are lucky to be allowed to keep trading but his heart breaks for the other business.

And he worries he will have to let some staff go.

He thinks the lockdown is too much for the French economy to bear.

But adds: “I am not the president. I wouldn’t like to be the president at this time.”

While he says he can’t agree with a full lockdown it’s “worth giving it a go”.

But like so many others we speak to, he thinks it will last much longer than the planned month.

And that would mean strict limits on people’s freedoms well beyond December.

As we left our hotel, the receptionist warned us not to forget to wear our masks at all times.

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She tells us: “When I came to work there were lots of police around.”

They will be checking to see that anyone outside their homes has a good reason to be.

Shopping for food, medicine or dealing with a family emergency is deemed acceptable.

People out on the streets will need to show the police what’s called an “attestation”.

It’s a form you have to fill in to identify your justification for leaving your residence.

We, like the citizens of this city, have to show the document we filled out.

Without it, expect a fine.

The are some people heading into work, but only to jobs where it’s technically impossible to work from home.

For the next month, millions will be doing their jobs from their front rooms and kitchens.

An hour’s exercise outside is allowed each day but face coverings and social distancing rules apply.

Travel around the country is banned.

These will be tough measures for the French population to live through for a second time this year.

Some are angry but most people we spoke to are accepting.

Saving lives they say holds priority over sustaining livelihoods for now.

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