“I’m grateful to be living in France, where there is universal healthcare and where the president has chosen to save human lives over the economy.”
Today, March 25, is the eighth full day of living in true confinement. As of Tuesday, March 17, at noon, the whole country of France has been on lockdown.
It was nearly two weeks ago that President Emmanuel Macron earnestly asked us to stay home, and the Prime Minister Édouard Philippe ordered all non-essential businesses to close at midnight. By March 15, there were whispers on the street that the government would be locking down, with the military and all, because the people here weren’t taking it seriously, and the infection and death rates were rising.
I’d been preparing for weeks.
Because most of my family is located in South Korea and Seattle, Washington, two places that were hit hard by the pandemic, and
Residents of the French capital are adjusting to the country’s toughest restrictions on public life outside wartime
And suddenly, it was August. Grudgingly but obediently, the rue des Martyrs in Paris’s ninth arrondissement entered lockdown at midday on Tuesday, the few people on its pavements making their way home, baguettes and shopping bags in hand.
Streets that are normally busy, all of a sudden aren’t.
At noon today, as France slipped into confinement, I looked down from my balcony at the street below. A few people were riding bikes or walking. At the tobacconist next to the closed café, a woman was wiping down the door frame. The street is normally busy, and all of a sudden it wasn’t. For the next two weeks, and likely longer, we cannot go out except for urgent reasons: food, medicine, or essential work. A nationwide lockdown, enforced by police. “We are at war,” French President Emmanuel Macron said six times in a speech yesterday evening. “The enemy is there—invisible, elusive—and it is advancing.”
Macron is right. COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has killed thousands and will likely kill thousands more, a tsunami that doctors have been warning will overwhelm the health-care system, as it’s already doing in neighboring Italy, the country hardest hit by this virus after China. This weekend, the government ordered all restaurants, cafés, and retail stores closed in France.
And finally, last night, Macron followed Italy and Spain—but not Britain or the United States—and mandated confinement to slow the exponential spread of the virus. Overnight, Macron, who was elected on a fluke and has faced popular revolts and flagging popularity, has become a war president.
French Agriculture Minister Didier Guillaume tells Catherine Nicholson why he believes a transition to lower-chemical farming is essential and how he thinks it can be achieved.
Meanwhile, Green MEP – and organic farmer himself – Benoît Biteau tells us why what he learnt converting his father’s farm to greener practices can be replicated.
In our reports, we meet some of the mayors who have banned pesticides around their towns and find out more about the conflict with the farming community. We also meet French farmers who are testing how to reduce their dependence on chemical pesticides