Saturday, March 20, 2021

Déjà Vu, Third Act

Almost exactly a year after entering its first useless lockdown, France has just entered its third useless lockdown, and it’s the most complicated yet. Citizens must again carry special forms to show to the police in order to venture outside their homes; and failure to have one's papers at hand can lead to fines or jail time. The form is now two pages long. Here's a (translated) sample of some of the text:

Persons residing in departments not subject to reinforced measures may not enter departments subject to reinforced measures beyond a perimeter defined by a 30-kilometer radius centered on their place of residence except for items marked by an asterisk in this declaration as well as within the context of long-distance movements leading only to transit through a zone subject to reinforced measures.

Got it? “Reinforced measures” is the official euphemism for lockdown, the latter apparently sounding too much like what it actually is. The list of businesses that must close (or remain closed), those that can open (or remain open), distance and time limits, and other restrictions is very long. And there's still a curfew, too, for which a different form (sometimes two) is required, ony now it starts at 7 PM instead of 6 PM. Elementary and junior high schools remain open, but high schools close. Some large stores (below a certain size that varies depending on several criteria) may remain open, but with certain aisles closed. And so on. I wonder how the government expects every person in France to keep up with these restrictions, especially since they seem to change before they are even officially published.

Museums, cinemas, bars, restaurants and hotels are still closed, and several large hotels have finally laid off most of their staff. Disneyland Paris is still closed, and its competitor, Parc Astérix, will not reopen for the season on the usual date; nobody knows when either venue will open. People try to go for walks, but then the police claim that they are forming forbidden groups and chase them home.

Official color of Eiffel Tower
Oh well. I just stay at home except to go out for groceries. It’s easier. It’s increasingly exhausting to go anywhere. It’s a pity, especially since the weather is very nice, and spring officially begins in three hours.

In other news … the Eiffel Tower (which is also closed) is being repainted. It is repainted every seven years. This repainting is special, though, because instead of just painting over the previous coat of paint as is usually done, on this pass all previous layers of paint are being removed and the new coat is being applied to bare metal. Nineteen coats of paint—130 years’ worth—are being removed. The work is going slowly because many of the older layers of paint contain lead, which these days is considered a hazardous material that must be carefully disposed of. But there’s plenty of time, as the tower is unlikely to reopen any time soon. Anyway, the tower’s official color is Pantone® Eiffel Tower brown, 18-5210 TCX, a kind of grayish brown.