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Letter from... Paris

01 May 2020

By Tanvi Jawadekar, Consultant, CLAI (Part of SEC Newgate)

For the last couple of weeks, the atmosphere in Paris has been charged with a sense of nervous anticipation. And understandably so, as Parisians wait with bated breath for the fast approaching date of 11th May to come out of confinement.

“Life post-confinement will not look like our life before the crisis”, stated the Prime Minister in his speech on the deconfinement plan. In some ways thus, Paris is in the process of preparing itself for the big unknown.

What will my work life be like when the confinement is lifted? How will my social life be? Will I be able to visit friends and family? Go to my favorite bar for that much-needed beer?... These questions and many others had been preoccupying Parisian minds ever since the end of the confinement was announced officially. The Prime Minister’s speech this week brought answers to most of them.

Technically speaking, very little will change post-confinement. People will continue working from home as much as possible, all bars, cafés, restaurants and theatres will remain shut, all public events like concerts and sports matches will remain postponed indefinitely and there will be no leaving Paris beyond 100 kilometers unless for unavoidable reasons. On top of that, Paris being one of the most affected regions in France, the deconfinement will be stricter here than in most places in the country.

And yet, the end of the confinement in Paris cannot come soon enough. Thousands of shops will reopen, and hundreds of small businesses will restart, allowing the economy to finally breathe. Being able to leave the house without a permit, and beyond the distance of one kilometer, will do a world of good for people’s morale. We will be able to visit and spend time with near and dear ones, although only in small numbers. We will most importantly, learn to live differently.

“The French will have to live with the virus”, stated the Prime Minister.

Living with the virus will entail questioning our current way of life, our modes of consumption, rethinking our value systems, learning to appreciate essential services, reorganizing our priorities. And that, in the long run, might not be such a bad thing after all…