As Coronavirus Lockdown Looms In France, French Travel Is Out Of The Question.

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As Coronavirus Lockdown Looms In France, French Travel Is Out Of The Question

A picture shows the gates of the closed Tuileries Gardens in Paris, on March 16, 2020, as all ... [+] non-essential public places have been closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The French president is expected to unveil more strict home confinement rules, even a total nationwide lockdown, when he addresses the nation on the evening of March 16. France has already closed down all schools, theatres, cinemas and a range of shops, as it declares a full-blown epidemic. Only those selling food and other essential items are allowed to remain open. The balance sheet of the epidemic climbed to 127 dead and 5,423 confirmed cases in France. (Photo by Ludovic Marin)

AFP via Getty Images

As the French flout calls to stay at home, many think the country is on the brink of a countrywide coronavirus lockdown–much tougher than the measures swept in over the weekend. If it happens, travel in France, in a touristy sense, will be out of the question.

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When President Emmanuel Macron addresses the public on Monday evening at 8 p.M., after meeting with senior ministers at the Élysée Palace, many expect him to unveil tough new rules to tackle the coronavirus epidemic.

Social distancing not. People walk on the banks of the river Seine in Paris on Sunday after all ... [+] cafes, restaurants, museums and boutiques closed and a full-blown coronavirus epidemic was declared. Flouting the drastically stepped up measures against the spread of the coronavirus, which asked people to stay at home as much as possible thousands chose to continue to congregate en masse (Photo by AURORE MESENGE)

AFP via Getty Images

Gallic Insouciance Pushes France To Brink Of Total Quarantine

The crackdown and possible move towards a strict Italy-style quarantine confining people to their homes, comes after French people defied with Gallic indifference the new rules swept in on Saturday under a partial quarantine. Particularly the call to stay at home as much as possible, and practice social distancing. With the closure of all but non-essential public places in France, it went without saying that people were to avoid congregating in public places.

Instead of that “dozens of people gathered to stroll in the sun in public gardens or along the Seine in Paris,” reports BFMTV. "It's crazy, people are oblivious!”–the broadcaster quotes someone close to the Élysée as saying, “The President thought they understood. It turns out that isn’t the case.”

To add insult to the injury, people posted their frivolous French flâneur behavior with glee on social media.

On Sunday, the day after the shutdown on all but essential public places, people continue to gather ... [+] on the lawns at Les Invalides in Paris, as for most outdoor spaces of the capital. The government was shocked of the flouting en masse of the call to stay at home and practice social distancing as France's coronavirus outbreak continues to rise dramatically by the day (Photo by Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)

Corbis via Getty Images

Following the flagrant snub to authority, rumors circulated wildly on social media, that the French were about to be forced to stay at home with army enforced curfews and other fanciful claims: “Curfew at 6 pm and roadblocks in neighborhoods”, “intervention of the army”, “deployed soldiers ” ... “Even if the authorities are working on such scenarios, the messages were based on false information,” said FranceInter.

As a result of all the Gauls gallivanting disrespectfully outdoors arm in arm, all gardens and parks closed in Paris late Monday. The authorities writes Le Parisien were “totally incredulous” at the number of people who had turned out together on the weekend, almost in party mode.

The Élysée denies any such “confinement order” is to come (as early as Tuesday according to some reports). But the French media is having none of it. “The age of innocence is over,” declares Le Monde. “After deciding, on Thursday, March 12, to close all schools , then, on Saturday March 14, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, cinemas etc., the Head of State now plans to confine all French people in their homes, following on the heels of Italy or Spain.”

Time will soon tell if France takes the ultimate tough step, to curb people’s liberties–in the country of “liberty, equality, freedom” itself. This as it fights a spiralling COVID-19 outbreak, with another 900 cases in the last day reports France 3 TV. That brings the current total confirmed cases to 5,423.

Coronavirus chart shows the progressive rise of cases in France in March, with the outbreak peaking ... [+] over the last week.

Ladepeche.Fr

A national quarantine should come as no surprise. The “scénario à l'italienne”–Italian style lockdown –has been anticipated for days since public health chief, Jérôme Salomon, told people on Thursday to start preparing for it. For the medical profession in France, such community isolation is the only way left to limit the circulation of the virus. Salomon now declares the French situation “very worrying", and “deteriorating very quickly."

Quite a different scene at the gardens in Paris late Monday. The sign says the Tuileries gardens are ... [+] now closed until further notice as are all Paris parks and gardens, and most other public places bar food stores, pharmacies and banks. Many believe more strict home confinement rules will soon be unveiled in a bid to prevent the virus from spreading. The toll in France is now 127 dead and 5,423 confirmed cases. (Photo by LUDOVIC MARIN)

AFP via Getty Images

What is life like under a partial lockdown:

As France declared a full-blown epidemic (‘stage 3’ as its known), the government ordered all but essential services to close over the weekend. All restaurants, bars, cafes, museums etc. Nationwide are closed “until further notice”. Food stores, pharmacies, banks and petrol stations stay open. For full details of the current rules read the story I wrote at the time.

What will life be like under a total lockdown

“If this happens, it will be like in Italy where you can only go out to work, to go shopping, or to the doctors,” said one radio commentator, “but you will need a document showing the motive for leaving home. If the rules are not respected you will be fined.”

The RATP public transport authority has announced there will be two out of three Paris Metro services running on Tuesday, 70% of buses and trams, 60% of RER B and half of RER A. Further cuts its says must be envisaged, with dwindling demand, particularly if a full quarantine enters into force.

All this means travel to, from and within France for tourists will become almost impossible. As it is the combined effect of Donald Trump’s travel ban, its fallout on flights, and warnings from state travel advisories to reconsider nearly all travel, have made that unlikely. That was before the European Union announced plans for a 30-day ban on nonessential travel into the bloc by non-EU citizens. Meantime a dozen countries in Western and Eastern Europe have already closed their borders to all foreigners for coming weeks as they try to contain the coronavirus outbreak in Europe. Germany is the latest beefing up border controls with France, Austria, Denmark, and Luxembourg, meaning many will not get through, except for cross-border commuters and those with a valid work reason.

For the thousands of British, American and other foreigners who are residing in France, all these things together are set to make life increasingly difficult.

Can Things Get Worse Than No Museums, Boutiques, Bars & Bistros

“It’s already in total lockdown,” says Joseph Edreï, an artist in the eastern French city of Strasbourg. Strolling along the picturesque quaysides of the ‘Capital Of Europe’, on Monday afternoon he says “There is not a soul outside–other than 2 or 3 people in the streets. The only thing that is open is supermarkets and food shops, everything else is shut.” Accustomed to seeing hundreds of people pack the beautiful Place de la Cathédrale, right now he says the heart of the historic city is empty. “There are 1 to 4 people maximum passing by at any one time. It’s almost totally deserted.”

It certainly sounds like the Alsatians, faced with one of the country’s worst outbreaks, are being far more disciplined than the Parisians, who like the line of the famous song by Jacques Dutronc, “Les gens sont fous”, apparently don’t seem to care.

People have been respecting the new emergency measures much more in the eastern city of Strasbourg, ... [+] where the streets are eerily empty. (Photo by FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images

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