Around the world,  TDM

Diary of a French Digital Nomad during Covid Lockdown

The sequence of events that have been happening for several weeks is so amazing that I decide to make a quick account of it. I hope that it will only be a bad memory in a few weeks and that I will read it again with astonishment in a few years.

For those who don’t know us, we are a couple of digital nomad. 4 years ago, we gave up our Parisian apartment and our sedentary life to adopt a nomadic lifestyle. We work remotely for our clients and take advantage of our geographical freedom to travel around the world. We jump from Airbnb to Airbnb and change cities and countries every 45 days on average.

Beginning of January 2020: We begin to hear about a new coronavirus (later named COVID-19) spreading in China. Nothing alarming at the moment, it appears to be a flu-like virus. We are watching the news anyway, because after a year of travelling around the American continent, we are in Mexico and we are about to return to Vietnam for a few weeks before going on vacation for a road trip in… China. The departure is planned for the end of February, we have time to see what’s coming.

Current January 2020: The virus continues to spread in China and the authorities take spectacular measures with quarantines of entire cities containing tens of millions of people. To cope with the epidemic, China is building hospitals in a matter of weeks. From the European viewpoint, all this is apocalyptic, it seems completely crazy, impossible to have such measures in democratic countries like ours! Our road-trip planned for China seems compromised but not our flight to Vietnam. We will be however particularly vigilant during our stopover of a few hours in Guangzhou in China. I look on Amazon Mexico if we can buy protective masks but there is little choice and they are very expensive

February 2, 2020: The plan of our flight to Vietnam has been modified, apparently following the cancellation of one of the flights we were to take. The countries bordering China are beginning to worry and are closing the land borders. It is finally Anh’s parents who live in Vietnam who tell us that the authorities have just completely closed the border between China and Vietnam, including air travel. I did not receive any information but by calling Expedia support, the information was confirmed to me. They can’t even offer me an alternative, our flight is simply cancelled and we are refunded. We search for several hours for a flight not passing through China: Japan, South Korea, Singapore. Fortunately, it is either too long or too expensive and Anh’s parents end up dissuading us: psychosis is spreading in Vietnam and many places are closed. Coming no matter what, it’s useless.

So we decide to come back to France where we will stay in Paris for a week to see our clients before separating for 3 weeks: a first in 10 years of marriage! Anh will visit her friend in Belgium before making a small tour in Germany. While I will go to Tours for 15 days to see my parents, then I will go down south to Saint-Raphaël to see my grandmother before going back up to Paris for a few days. My program allows me to attend two events that are close to my heart: the OM – PSG match at the Velodrome Stadium and the SEOcamp’us, 2 days of a professional event in my field of activity. We will meet in Rome where we have booked an Airbnb. There are starting to be some cases of COVID-19 in Northern Italy but nothing to worry about.

February 13, 2020: Political earthquake in France with Benjamin Griveaux, candidate for mayor of Paris who withdraws after the online broadcast of intimate videos

February 16, 2020: Agnès Buzyn is no longer Minister of Health, she replaces Benjamin Griveaux at a moment’s notice for the Paris municipal elections. However, 48 hours earlier, she had said she had “too busy an agenda” to be a candidate. Busy with health reform and preparing for the coronavirus crisis.

February 24, 2020: Mexico City – Las Vegas then Las Vegas – Paris. We arrive in France (it’s cold!) and spend the week in Paris. We were a bit worried about the echoes of racist behaviors towards Asians in Europe but Anh will not have to deplore it personally. We are happy to be back with colleagues / friends / family / cat and French food. Since we have been traveling for 4 years, we really appreciate our short stays in Paris before leaving for other adventures.

February 26, 2020: After a few days of hesitation, the 8th final of the Lyon – Juventus soccer champions league is maintained and 3000 supporters arrive from Italy, the most affected country in Europe .

February 29, 2020: The French government prohibits gatherings of more than 5000 people in closed environments.

March 2, 2020: The coronavirus is now very present in Italy, we decide to cancel our stay in Rome. No need to come if all points of interest are closed. Instead we decide to go to Vienna in Austria.

March 3, 2020: While Anh is in Belgium at a friend’s house, I am in Tours and go out regularly in the evening. The bars are full, we kiss each other, we shake hands. The coronavirus feeds the conversations but we feel little concerned.

March 6, 2020: After about 15 days with a few isolated cases, the virus begins to circulate in France and many events are suppressed. The SEOcamp’us I was supposed to attend is postponed to September. At the same time, Emmanuel Macron attends with his wife a theater performance: “Life goes on. There is no reason, except for the fragile populations, to change our habits of going out” he says

March 8, 2020: The Italian government decides to quarantine the entire north of Italy, unbelievable! The quarantine will be extended 2 days later to the whole country! It already seemed unlikely when China had taken this measure but now it is our neighbors who are forced to make this drastic choice. At the same time, the French government prohibits the gatherings of more than 1000 people. The soccer league 1 decides to continue the championship and to organize the matches behind closed doors. My dream of attending OM – PSG at the Velodrome stadium seems more than compromised.

March 9, 2020: Following the Italian announcements, the Parisian stock exchange unscrews: the CAC 40 loses 8.39%.

March 11, 2020: PSG eliminates Dortmund in the 8th final return of the Champions League. While the match was taking place behind closed doors to prevent the spread of the virus, the police prefecture authorized thousands of Parisian fans to show their support from outside the stadium. It’s nonsense, the vast majority of people aren’t aware of what is going on.

March 12, 2020: In a televised speech, Emmanuel Macron announces the closure of nurseries, schools, colleges and universities until further notice to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Millions of families have only the WE to organize themselves for childcare. Gatherings of more than 100 people are also prohibited. It’s getting serious and I’m starting to adopt the barrier gestures: no more kisses and no more handshakes. In addition of course to a very regular hand washing that I already apply much more conscientiously than usual.

On the stock market, the CAC 40 suffered the worst day in its history, dropping 12.28%. By way of comparison, the index had lost 7.3% on the day of the September 11, 2001 attacks and 7.7% on October 10, 2008 in the midst of the subprime crisis.

March 13, 2020: League 1 and League 2 soccer are suspended until further notice. This is the case for almost all sports competitions across the planet. A few days later, the Euro 2020 scheduled for June/July will be postponed for one year. The question is beginning to seriously arise for the Olympic Games scheduled in Tokyo this summer. I had also studied the possibility of going there but the accommodation was so expensive that I had given up the idea.

March 14, 2020: Austria decides to suspend air traffic to and from certain countries such as France. Our flight is therefore affected and we cancel our stay in Vienna. I am in Paris for a birthday. In the transports and in the streets, I meet some people wearing masks but nothing spectacular. Between two beers, I learn that the Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has just announced the closure of all public places “not essential”. Basically, everything will be closed except food stores, pharmacies, banks, tobacco stores or gas stations. The government formally advises against visiting people over 70 years old who are the most vulnerable.

I have to go to my grandmother’s house the next day for a week. I decide to cancel this trip at the last minute to avoid putting her in danger. I have just spent the day in the train, the subway and then I spend the evening with 15 people who themselves have met tens or even hundreds of people in the last few days. There is no guarantee that I am not a carrier of the virus (experts are beginning to estimate that 50% of carriers have no symptoms but can transmit the virus, the famous asymptomatic people) and it seems unreasonable to go see my grandmother under these conditions.

March 15, 2020: Travelling abroad becoming impossible when coming from France (more and more countries refuse us or place us in quarantine), we decided to find a place in France to stay until the situation returns to normal. With the cancellation of my stay in Saint-Raphaël, everything is accelerating and we are soliciting our network (Facebook / Twitter / Linkedin) to quickly find an accommodation. We will find a solution in the Paris region in a few hours. In the meantime I went back down to Tours and we bought a plane ticket for Anh to come back from Germany earlier than planned, she will be back on March 17th.

While the first round of municipal elections was maintained (to the general surprise following the drastic announcements of the previous day), the French are largely disinterested (56% abstention). News and rumors only concern the virus.

During the day, rumors of border closures between Germany and France are evoked for the next day. There is concern that Anh will remain blocked.

On WhatsApp, I receive several messages about a containment in the Ile de France region that should be announced the next day for implementation on March 17th. Only trips to buy food would be allowed and a curfew would take place at 6pm. Everyone is getting ready: some are leaving Paris for the provinces, those who can prepare to work at home. The atmosphere becomes quite anxious and following the news all the time doesn’t help, but the new announcements fall so regularly that it’s difficult to do otherwise. The economic situation that is coming is catastrophic and our activity can be affected. We depend in marketing budgets on companies that are often the first to be cut in times of crisis. Fortunately, we have built up a “safety mattress” to have a few months of cash in case of a hard blow.

So it’s a small race against the clock that begins so that I go back to Paris to take possession of the accommodation we found in Les Lilas (near Paris), to do some shopping and for Anh to join me

I admit that I am not very serene and that I have a little bit the impression of throwing myself into the lion’s den on my way back to Paris. We had another option to stay in Caen and we hesitated but with the uncertainty about the confinement, we were afraid that Anh would be stuck in Paris and we would be separated.

The Parisian stock market loses another 5.75% and falls to 3881 points, a drop of 36% compared to its high on February 19, barely a month ago at 6111 points! A low since 2013. I follow this regularly because it’s the first stock market crash that affects me financially: part of my future retirement is invested in the stock market. I’m not overly concerned because I have an investment horizon of 20 / 30 years. Things will happen between now and then!

March 16, 2020: I wake up in Saint Cyr this morning and take a few moments to realize where I am. I’m used to changing my environment very regularly, but this time it’s going a little fast. Between the changes of program, the uncertainties and the anxiety that rises, it’s a lot. I’m quite tense and an unusual backache doesn’t fool me. This morning I have no accommodation or food and Anh is abroad. If everything goes as planned, it will be better tomorrow evening.

I decide to go shopping. These are still only rumors but they are more and more precise: Paris will be confined very soon and I’m afraid that the stores will be empty and that I’ll find myself without food

I’m going to Auchan, I don’t know the usual Monday morning crowd, but it’s crowded even if it’s far from the Saturday crowd. Given what people have in their carts, it’s clearly to stock up. I go to the rice / pasta section: it is completely empty. I had already seen these images on social networks but seeing it for myself, it makes me feel strange. I feel like I’m in a survivalist film

It’s the same thing at Lidl

While the virus didn’t seem to affect many people until a few days ago, behaviors are gradually changing: I see people disinfecting the handle of their shopping cart before taking it in hand. The cashiers ask to respect 1.5 meters of spacing between each customer in line.

I finally manage to buy rice in bulk in an organic store. I don’t have enough room in my suitcase to take some seasoning but at least I have enough to last for a few days without starving to death.

My brother Vincent drops me off at the train station to go back to Paris. He confides to me that he has the impression of transporting a soldier who is leaving for Afghanistan 😀 On arrival at the Montparnasse train station, when it is only a Monday afternoon, it is the rush of the big departures on vacation! Many Parisians evacuate the capital anticipating the announcements of confinement. Contrary to Saturday two days earlier, protective masks are much more visible. Those who don’t have one try to protect themselves with a scarf or even in a derisory way by hiding their nose under a hand…

For the first time since the beginning of the crisis, I take out my anti-pollution mask bought a few years ago in Nepal and that we used from time to time in Asia when the air was too polluted. The government may say that the mask isn’t useful for people who aren’t sick (and for good reason: there are big problems with stocks and the authorities can’t even equip the health care workers), but it is at least used to avoid putting the (potentially infected) fingers in the mouth inadvertently.

WhatsApp is heating up, and rumors of a nationwide 45-day lockdown announcement are getting heated. There is even talk of an army intervention! Emmanuel Macron is scheduled to speak at 8pm.

Example of a rumor received by WhatsApp during the day. There was little doubt about the announcement of a containment but about the modalities (only the Ile de France and the East were mentioned at the beginning of the day).

I get the apartment next to the Mairie des Lilas station, we will occupy it until the situation returns to normal. It is big enough for us and fully equipped: fiber optics, washing machine, dishwasher, it’s perfect! Since we adopted a nomadic lifestyle, we have stayed in more than a hundred different places but I think this is the first time I’ve arrived without having seen a single photo of the place. In a hurry, we adapt!

I go out at the Franprix to complete the morning’s errands. There is a small line while the store is… closed. The number of visitors coming to stock up is such that the store has to close several times during the day for an hour to reposition the shelves.

The advantage is that I’m one of the first to go home. There is no panic scene but you have to decide quickly without thinking too much, the most popular foodstuffs leave at a crazy speed and the shelves empty at a glance!

I now have enough to survive for 15 days without having to ration. I’m a little ashamed to have given in to this psychosis of stocking up on food but at least I’m at peace and I won’t have to go out shopping in the next few days. I am used to eating out and I have never had to have more than 2 days of food stock at home, which makes me feel weird

At 8 pm, Emmanuel Macron speaks and announces a confinement (without pronouncing the word) of 15 days renewable starting the next day at noon. During his intervention he will pronounce 6 times the expression “We are at war”. While we rather evoked a confinement in Île de France and in the Great East, it is the whole country which is concerned!

The current set of reforms is suspended, first of all the pension reform that crystallized tensions for many months.

It is completely in the background, but the second round of municipal elections is postponed to a later date, a situation so unprecedented that it will have to be the subject of a specific law

We even receive a text message from the authorities.

Anh is supposed to arrive the next day but a hunch leads him to take the train during the day, even if it means losing his plane ticket. By chance, she finds the only direct train leaving from a small provincial station 15 minutes away. She arrives by train in Paris Gare de l’Est around 10 pm after a 1h30 delay. The border being partially closed, the driver announces that any traveler must be able to justify his trip, for professional purposes only. Finally, there will be no control and her train Germany –> France stopped at the border to pick up the French who had a train France –> Germany and who were not allowed to cross the border .

The night before, we had neither lodging nor food. We were in two different countries. 36 hours later, we are ready for the confinement!

March 17, 2020 – Confinement Day 1: After a first good night in our new home, we go back to work. For us it is routine since we have been working 100% telework for several years. However, it’s quite new for my colleagues who only work from home on a very punctual basis. As a result, we force ourselves to do video and it’s much more fun. I hope that we will keep this good habit once the crisis is over.

The mood is rather gloomy since my main client is planning to make major budget cuts at the service providers and it isn’t impossible that we are concerned. Colleagues have already seen their companies mean partial unemployment for them.

At the beginning of the day, there is still a lot of activity in the street, I can observe it from our window. The noisy public works just downstairs continue.
At 12 o’clock, official time of the beginning of the confinement, the activity starts to reduce.
From 3pm, it becomes very quiet even if we still see some pedestrians and some cars passing by. Nothing to do with the usual traffic.

The living room where you work is no longer disturbed by the noise of work, cars and scooters. There is still the sound of the television of our old neighbor across the street. We will have to make do with it 🙂

The containment announced last night isn’t total containment. It is still possible to travel for certain reasons such as buying food or going to work if it isn’t feasible to telework. However, it is necessary to have a travel certificate on hand. Since we have a printer and our neighborhood is mainly composed of elderly people, Anh takes the initiative to print a few copies and put them under the doors along with a note.

March 18, 2020 – Confinement Day 2: The routine begins, the big difference for us is having to cook for ourselves when we are used to eating outdoors. It’s still possible to get deliveries but it’s taking risks for others (cooks, delivery people) and as we have stocked up anyway, we have to use them well!

If you are lucky enough to be used to teleworking, the confinement can still be long! Especially since we are used to being constantly disoriented by our changes of destinations.

We who are used to having one of the “best passports in the world” allowing us to enter more than a hundred countries without applying for a visa, it is incredible to see the number of countries that now close their doors to the French. Anyway, there is no question of traveling since the whole world is confined and there are less and less planes but it’s still weird..

The Minister of Foreign Affairs now recommends that French citizens on vacation abroad return home. A big thought to all the tourists who are forced to interrupt the “trip of a lifetime”. I can’t imagine how I would have reacted if we had been forced to interrupt our trip in 2016. At that time we hadn’t yet decided to become digital nomads and we might have stopped traveling for good.

In the afternoon, I receive a call from the company that acts as an interface between me as a service provider and my biggest client. At the client’s request, I am asked several questions:

  • Do you have symptoms related to Coronavirus?
  • Are you teleworking? Do you have the necessary equipment?
  • Have you been in communication with your manager since Monday?
  • Could you reduce your rates during this period?
  • Would you be willing to work part-time?

I answered no / yes / yes / no. But I feel that a savings plan is being prepared. Since I only have 2-month renewable contracts that are very easy to interrupt, I expect to be impacted

March 19, 2020 – Containment Day 3: For the first time since the beginning of containment, I’m out! To go for a little jog. From now on, to go out, you have to fill out a certificate specifying the reason for your trip, so I fill it out conscientiously by checking the box related to an outing for physical activity.

It’s been a while since I’ve run so it’s a bit hard but the conditions are nice and I’ll try to get into it every morning. The little traffic means that the air quality must be much better than normal and I discover that the Romainville Park right next door which allows me to run in the middle of the greenery.

When I get home, Anh prepares a daily ration for me: a mixture of honey / ginger / lime supposed to strengthen the immune system. I’m rather skeptical about the effectiveness of the remedy but it’s full of good things, it can’t do any harm.

March 20, 2020 – Confinement day 4: Today I’m going out quickly to Franprix to liven up the shopping I was able to do on Monday in a hurry. There are a few people in the store but nothing to do with Monday’s rush or it was a bit of a panic. The government has since tried to reassure everyone by indicating that the supply to the stores would continue. This seems to be the case even if some departments are less well stocked than others: impossible to get your hands on ham for example. I estimate that about 50% of the people I meet wear a mask.

The safety distance of one meter in the checkout queue is roughly respected.

Franprix has also installed transparent plastic covers to protect the cashiers

In short, for the moment it’s working very well and it’s quite reassuring

Funny little fail: Anh asked me to buy pork to make Asian dishes. I go to the butcher shop right next door and start queuing. It’s only after 10 minutes of waiting that I realize that it’s a Jewish butcher shop, Coronavirus crisis or not, no chance to find a piece of pork there!

March 21, 2020 – Confinement Day 5: It’s going to be a long confinement! It isn’t so much the social distancing that is burdensome but the fact of not knowing when it will end, of being powerless in the face of this situation. No one is under any illusion, the 15 days of confinement evoked at the time of the announcement will be extended and it will surely take many months before the borders reopen and we can resume our way of life made of travel and permanent disorientation. We were happy to return to Asia 18 months after having left it, we will have to be patient. However, we do not have to complain, our confinement is done in the best possible conditions. I wonder how parents who have to take care of their children all day long in small spaces do it? In any case, we aren’t alone, to date 900 million people are confined on the planet.

Every evening at 8pm sharp, applause can be heard. The French go out on their balcony to applaud for a few minutes the caregivers who are at the front in appalling conditions. I’ll try to get into the habit of doing this, it’s a derisory gesture but if it can put a little balm in their hearts, it won’t be completely useless

Big controversy in France about the shortage of masks. Until 2010, there were very important strategic reserves to cope with an epidemic of this type. They have since been considerably reduced for budgetary reasons. As a result, there is panic. A colleague even explained to me that the sewing club of which his mother is president has been requisitioned to make masks?

There is also a huge need for the production of hydroalcoholic gel for disinfection. Some companies have decided to modify their production line to produce it. This is the case, for example, of LVMH, which offers them free of charge to hospitals.

One can guess by the transparency that the container was intended for a Kenzo brand water. This cheap packaging is incongruous for a luxury brand such as LVMH, but it will probably go down in the history books because it reflects the urgency of the situation.

March 22, 2020 – Confinement Day 6: It is Sunday and this is our first weekend of confinement. Sometimes we don’t go out for a weekend but this is the first time we’ve been confined. The day before we saw some shocking images of the Montparnasse train station black with people! As last Monday, there is a massive exodus of Parisians who flee the capital for a more comfortable place or to live during the confinement. In the meantime they contribute to spread the virus to their traveling neighbors but also in the places they go to! The resuscitation services in France are beginning to be overwhelmed. There have been 112 deaths due to coronavirus in the last 24 hours in France, 800 in Italy. Knowing that our curve follows that of Italy with a week’s delay and that they still haven’t reached the peak of their curve. According to specialists, it is now accepted that 50 to 60% of the population will be affected by the coronavirus at one time or another and that at this level, the progression of the epidemic will stop because enough people will be immunized and thus form a group immunity. The challenge is therefore not so much to stop the progression of the virus, but to ensure that it is as slow as possible so as not to exceed the capacity of hospitals to treat serious cases. There is no longer any doubt, the extension of the containment will be announced in the coming days, perhaps even with stricter conditions.

March 23, 2020 – Confinement Day 7: It’s been a month since we left Mexico to return to France, it’s not much but it seems like a century ago, so many improbable events have taken place since then. Our plan A was to go to Vietnam, plan B to go to Italy, plan C to go to Austria. In the end, we are stuck in Paris, probably for many weeks. I don’t dare to imagine that this situation will continue for several months. I’m already starting to miss the trip, the discovery, the change of scenery. Since June 2016 when we returned the keys of our apartment to go on a world tour, we have never spent more than a month in a row in France. Today it is this damn coronavirus that blocks us on the spot.

A few days ago, Anh sent a shopping list of Asian food products. Thanks to the tricks of the Vietnamese community, it was delivered today. The service “shopping + delivery” costs us 20 €. For the refund of the groceries? We are left with a picture of the receipt (the delivery man has been shopping for a lot of people at the same time). It’s up to us to make the sum and then make a transfer later.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe was on TF1 at 8pm tonight. He indicated that the confinement would probably last a few more weeks and tightened a few rules: open markets where many French people were still congregating are now prohibited and the exemption of exit for sports activities has been clarified. Outings will be limited to one hour per day at a maximum of one kilometer from home. The certificate will be modified in this sense and the time of exit will have to be specified.

Reading Le Figaro, I learn that India is preparing to confine 1.3 billion people! With more or less strict rules depending on the states. We will then be 2.6 billion confined humans, 1/3 of the inhabitants of the planet!

I also learn that 173 countries (out of 193!) have taken restrictive measures against France, 146 of which simply prohibit access to French people on their territory. In the space of 15 days, we have become plague victims whereas we could previously enter more than a hundred countries without even making a prior request. I can’t believe it!

March 24, 2020 – Confinement Day 8: The decision had seemed obvious for a few days but it’s now official, the IOC has decided to postpone the Olympic Games scheduled for this summer in Tokyo are postponed for one year. A first in peace time!

I don’t dare imagine the logistical challenges of postponing such an event. Small thought for the athletes who live only for this event and who have programmed their peak form for this year. One of the dreams I have yet to fulfill is to attend the Olympic Games. A few months ago, I had considered going to Tokyo this year before giving up in the face of the indecent price of accommodation. For the moment I’m quite happy that I didn’t spend thousands of euros on it…

The big debate in recent days has revolved around chloroquine, an anti-malarial drug. French professor Didier Raoult, a world-renowned infectiologist, says that tests are showing very promising results and that chloroquine could be a first remedy against the coronavirus. The scientific community is divided, some say that the test protocol is very insufficient, others that in times of war, procedures sometimes have to be ignored

It’s difficult for a philistine like me to have a definite opinion on the matter, especially since Professor Raoult is far from having a conventional style: he doesn’t have his tongue in his pocket and has a physique reminiscent of the druid Panoramix in Asterix. But perhaps this is the lot of misunderstood geniuses

The authorities have authorized more massive tests and accept that chloroquine should be used to treat the most serious cases (those whose lives no longer depend on the multiplication of the virus but on other respiratory complications – a strange decision). At the same time, countries such as the United States are already considering its massive use.

I receive an e-mail from my accounting firm begging its clients not to block direct debit fees. Some companies must be so caught up in the throat that they have no choice but to reject the withdrawals and thus endanger other companies? The economy is a house of cards that is in danger of collapsing. This is all the more worrying since the containment has only been effective “for” 8 days.

March 25, 2020 – Containment Day 9: Yesterday the Scientific Council recommended a containment of at least 6 weeks. The decision isn’t official but to tell the truth, everyone suspected from the beginning that the 2 weeks initially announced were only the first salvo. We should therefore at best be confined until the end of April

I am starting to have several acquaintances in my close circle who probably contracted Covid-19. No serious cases fortunately. I say probably because they have the symptoms but aren’t tested. Indeed France only tests the most serious cases (for lack of testing capacity). The figures of the number of people infected by the coronavirus are therefore interesting to follow the trend but are far below the reality. It is the same for the number of deaths because only deaths in hospitals are counted in the statistics, whereas there are very many deaths in HPAE

I’ve had several feedback from colleagues who are surprised at how tiring teleworking can be. When you work in premises, especially in a large company, a working day is cut short by meetings with often questionable efficiency, by coffee / cigarette breaks, … When working in an open space, it is also difficult to concentrate for a long time on a task because we will quickly be interrupted by a noise, a colleague who comes to ask us a question, … At the end of the day, we sometimes realize that the real productive time has been very limited. Teleworking is obviously not a guarantee of better productivity and it is easy to procrastinate but I still feel more concentrated and efficient than when I worked in offices.

The lack of social interaction is felt by some. At the end of the day, we regularly organize virtual aperitifs by connecting the webcam. Last night, I organized some with colleagues, we were 10. I also do some with my brothers, much more than usual, even though we were used to not seeing each other for many months. For this I use the service Whereby which is very easy to use (no need to install software or create an account, except for the organizer).

Yesterday, Uderzo, one of the two fathers of the Asterix comic book died (unrelated to the Coronavirus). The newspaper L’Equipe therefore offers us a wonderful mix of Asterix and the postponement of the Olympic Games.

I’m going back to run some errands today. I saw that there was a Casino a little further away but much bigger than the small Franprix where I am going so far. I’m going there before I turn around in front of the looooong queue that I have to do before I get back. It’s not very visible on the picture but there are still a lot of people behind, some are even sitting against the wall waiting for it to go on…

At Franprix there is also a little bit of tail but it is very reasonable. On the other hand, the store is small and it only takes a couple who are a little tense like today to make shopping unpleasant. I watch them with amusement and get offended every time someone crosses them a little too close to their taste before robbing the cake department. Our supply of QP was beginning to dwindle dangerously and I was able to buy the last package that was available on the shelf, the person right in front of me having taken 4! I suspect she wanted to buy all that was left but she must not have seen the last one that was hidden at the bottom of the shelf. Small pleasure of the day: I find chocolate breads at Franprix 🙂 The bakeries are open but I find the idea of queuing up in a confined space to buy a pastry a bit silly.

The UN Secretary General announces that the covid-19 pandemic “threatens all humanity”. I never thought I would hear this sentence anywhere else but in a movie.

Emmanuel Macron is speaking again tonight to… not say much. In a martial setting, in front of the field hospital that was installed by the army in Mulhouse, the president began by thanking the health personnel. He then announced that a massive plan of investment in hospitals would be put in place after the crisis. A form of mea culpa all the more laughable as the staff of the public hospital have been on strike for a year, sounding the alarm on the lack of means. Without going into detail, he also launched the military operation Résiliance to fight against the coronavirus. The first concrete measure is the dispatch of military vessels to meet the needs of overseas territories.

March 26, 2020 – Confinement Day 10: A few days ago, Martin Hirsch, APHP’s general director, explained that 17% of Parisians had fled the capital during the exodus of the day before the confinement. This would have two consequences: 1/ The spread of the virus over the whole territory which would be “paid” one to two weeks later (incubation period) 2/ Problems of hospital capacity in some regions which saw their population suddenly increase due to the massive arrival of Parisians. I found this figure impressive but I wondered how it had been calculated. It looked like a figure out of the hat

This morning it is Stéphane Richard, president of the telephone operator Orange, who gives us the explanation: anonymized geolocation data from cell phones was used. According to him, the population of Paris has decreased by 20% and that of the Ile de Ré (where many Parisians have second homes) has increased by 30%. I think it’s crazy and I’m amused to have gone the other way around, leaving the province to return to the capital.

I continue my morning footwork. Difficult because it’s very cold at the moment and I’ve lost the rhythm these last few months

There are now nearly 500,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide, including 25,000 in France. Knowing that this is the submerged part of the iceberg since in most countries like France, only serious cases are tested.

INSEE estimates that 35% of the French economy is at a standstill and that one month of containment will cause a loss of 3 points of GDP. There is therefore no doubt that we will enter recession. Such a brutal halt is unprecedented in history since even in times of war, the economy (especially the war economy) continues and the population is at work. In France, short-time working measures allow employees not to lose (for the time being) their jobs. It is different in the United States where an employee can be laid off overnight. The number of new unemployed this week is 3.3 million compared to 282,000 the week before! The record of 695,000 new claims, which dates back to October 1982, has exploded

March 27, 2020 – Containment Day 11: With more than 83,000 cases, the United States is now the country most affected by the virus. Just a month ago, Donald Trump announced that there were 15 people infected and that it would be close to zero a few days later. It strikes me that most countries have gone through a phase of denial before being forced to take increasingly drastic measures.

In France, a 16-year-old girl triggers great emotion by becoming the first minor to die of the virus. She died within a few days when she had no health problems. For a long time it was thought that only the elderly were at risk, this is clearly no longer the case even if they remain the main victims.

The French Hospital Federation is alarmist and announces that the capacity of Ile de France hospitals should be exceeded within 24 to 48 hours.

Anh who is looking to keep busy starts doing do it yourself with the means at hand.

As if confinement was becoming the norm, it was in a simple declaration, without even going through the news that Edouard Philippe announced the renewal of the confinement for 15 days. So we have at least until April 15

Since we must not let ourselves be overwhelmed by this gloomy news and boredom is beginning to lurk, I am following the current season of the Koh Lanta show. A first for at least 10 years! I’m very pleased because this episode is anthological with a sequence of ambassadors, an exercise in which two candidates from each team must decide on one person to be eliminated or risk their own skin, which will be remembered.

The soccer news being close to nothing (all competitions are suspended), the Sofoot website has fun rating the candidates of Koh Lanta as they would do for a soccer match. With their characteristic squeaky humor. Big delirium!

March 28, 2012 – Confinement Day 12: To respond to the doubts about political action that are increasing in public opinion, the Prime Minister expresses himself in a very long (almost 2 hours!) status report. In an appreciable exercise of pedagogy and transparency, he comes back in detail on the reasons for the confinement, on the problems of tests, masks, etc. He states that the next 15 days will be much more difficult than the previous 15 days.

The crisis is more global than ever and few countries aren’t affected. Italy is the first country to surpass the 10,000 death mark, but the world’s largest outbreak is now in the United States.

Seeing the difficulties encountered by the world’s largest economic powers, one can imagine the worst for less wealthy countries. France has 30,000 respirators for 67 million inhabitants. Afghanistan has barely 60 respirators for a population of 35 million… Officially, Afghanistan has only a hundred cases but in reality nobody knows anything about it… And many Iranians find refuge in Afghanistan at the moment to flee the health crisis in their country which is one of the most affected…

The European Space Agency is releasing satellite images revealing the drop in economic activity: the reduction in nitrogen dioxide emissions is very striking.

Approximately 20,000 French people are still abroad trying to return to France. Reading the testimonials on Facebook groups of travelers, I realize that we were really lucky to get back in time without difficulty before the world situation degenerated. Some people have to interrupt the trip of a lifetime and spend thousands of euros to return in a disaster. This is the case of my former colleague Maxime who had to return from Sri Lanka.

We have been cooking every meal for almost two weeks now, which is very unusual for us. We do not manage too badly but it remains basic. As it’s Saturday and I have more time, I try the first tartiflette of my life and I’m rather happy with the result.

The afternoon is largely devoted to online video games with friends, it helps pass the time.

March 29, 2020 – Confinement Day 13: My morale is down at the end of the second weekend of confinement. I have a lot of work to do but motivation for nothing. At best we are only halfway through the confinement but everything suggests that it will take longer than that…

Little by little we learn the names of personalities affected by the virus. It is the case of Prince Charles, the English Prime Minister, Prince Albert of Monaco, … In France, several ministers and deputies are infected and we learn today the death of former minister Patrick Devedjian who is the first prominent political personality to succumb to the epidemic.

There are now 3 billion people in the world who are in confinement, but some countries consider that the cure is worse than the disease and are betting on collective immunity so as not to put their economy at a standstill. In Europe, Sweden is one of the few countries to make this choice and I’m very curious to see what the outcome will be. The United Kingdom followed the same logic for a long time before declaring 3 weeks of confinement at the beginning of the week.

March 30, 2020 – Confinement day 14: It has been exactly two weeks since we took possession of this apartment. We are well installed even if we hope that the stay will be as short as possible.

We are really living a form of hysteria: to respond to the shortage of masks, the authorities have ordered a billion masks that will arrive little by little by June. To get them there as quickly as possible, an airlift has been set up with China. The first batch of 5 million masks arrived today. We don’t have the details but it must represent a market value of a few million euros at the most (a surgical mask costs a few cents to manufacture, an FFP2 mask a few tens of cents at the most). To receive this merchandise: two sections of the gendarmerie and soldiers from the “resilience” operation were mobilized. And there was even a Rafale plane patrolling above the airport…

March 31, 2020 – Confinement day 15: The article of the day is signed Florence Aubenas, a great reporter for Le Monde, she signs a long article on the situation in the EHPAD. Ms. Aubenas is a journalist that I admire who makes long reports by staying several days or even several months on the spot to feel a situation. Her articles are often memorable, I leave it here as an archive.

As a result of national and international travel restrictions, air traffic in Europe is virtually at a standstill. The comparison between March 8 and March 28 at the same time is eloquent. Moreover, Orly airport is closing its doors tonight for an indefinite period. While waiting for the resumption of the activity, the airport will serve as a… garage for unused planes… This is simply a first.

After helping China, Spain and Italy, Cuban doctors are now arriving in our overseas departments to strengthen our hospitals. The Cuban health system is very reputable, but for a country that has been under embargo for 60 years to come to the rescue of the world’s 6th largest economy… let’s just say it teaches humility

Tonight, I’m watching the movie Contagion, released in 2011. The realism in relation to the current situation is impressive, a real film of anticipation! Gymnasiums transformed into hospitals, calculation of the contagion rate, conspiracy theories, quarantine, hope for a miracle cure, … It’s all there! Fortunately, the mortality rate of the virus in the film is much higher than the one we are worried about today.

We learn tonight that the coronavirus has got the better of Pape Diouf, the former president of Olympique de Marseille (period 2005 – 2009). He had made Didier Deschamps come to the OM which had regained success and put an end to years of shortage. He is a personality whose eloquence and intelligence I appreciated, it makes me feel something..

April 1, 2020 – Confinement Day 16: The UN and WTO (alone) warn of a potential global food crisis. Problems in the movement of goods, border slowdowns, export reductions to secure domestic markets… could cause shortages. Given the behavior that can be observed in stores when there are no shortages (yet) to report, I don’t dare to imagine the mess it could become if food shortages start to occur. Our societies are very fragile…

In front of the information mission of the National Assembly, Edouard Philippe evokes for the first time the deconfinement. He explains that several strategies are under consideration. Without saying much, he prepares public opinion for the principle of a progressive and regionalized deconfinement. It is conceivable that large conurbations will be liberated after other less populated regions.

An underground world war is being fought over the supply of masks. The president of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region Renaud Muselier tells us that on the tarmac of a Chinese airport, the Americans outbid and paid cash for a batch of 4 million masks that was destined for France. At the same time, we learn that France requisitioned in Lyon, a few weeks earlier, a batch of millions of masks that was destined for Spain and Italy. RIP European solidarity.

It is surely not the right time but I hope that after the crisis is over, heads will fall on this mask management. At the same time in Australia, stores are distributing free masks at the entrance so that customers can do their shopping in optimal security conditions. The need is so great that the State has launched a call for projects to homologate prototypes of alternative fabric masks that can be produced in many workshops. Do-it-yourself, you say? Yes, completely.

Tonight we eat better than usual with delicious home made spring rolls made by Anh.

April 2, 2020 – Containment Day 17: Containment measures / curfews / quarantines now concern half of humanity. With the curfew in Thailand, it is now 3.9 billion people who have travel restrictions. At least we aren’t alone ^^.

A plane arrived in New York filled with Russian humanitarian aid… you think you’re dreaming. It must be said that the situation has deteriorated at a crazy speed in the United States, in New York there is currently one death every 3 minutes related to the coronavirus. On a worldwide level, we have passed the one million confirmed cases mark. This is very far from the number of real cases since very few patients are tested and many cases are asymptomatic

4 million French employees, i.e. one in five, are now on short-time working. This measure makes it possible to interrupt all or part of an employee’s activity for the duration of confinement. Their salary is then paid by the State up to 86%. This will cost a fortune to the community but will hopefully allow the economy to restart more quickly once the crisis is over.

In the do-it-yourself register to combat equipment shortages, Decathlon has just donated 30,000 available units of its famous Easybreath diving mask. Italian engineers have succeeded in connecting it to artificial respirators using a plastic part that can be manufactured with a 3D printer.

Concerned by the UN and WTO alerts about the risks of food shortages, Anh decided to order 9kg of rice from its Vietnamese network. I find this quite extreme but as no one would have imagined a few weeks ago that half of the world would find itself confined, we don’t really know what can happen anymore

April 3, 2020 – Confinement Day 18: College and Baccalaureate exams will be replaced this year by continuous testing! This choice will allow courses to continue until July 4 to complete the programs. It could be a big mess to harmonize the grades, which aren’t the same depending on the institutions and to establish the grades for the different programs….

Quite a frustrating day of running. I leave at 1:15 pm for Franprix. It is closed until 2pm to restock. So I decide to go to Naturalia before coming back

At 2pm I am again in front of Franprix which will finally open at 2:30pm. Many references are missing, here is for example the flour department, I was planning to buy some to use the bread machine we have in the apartment.

So 2 hours of shopping to find half of what I was looking for. On top of that I have the impression that the prices are really high, I think we’re really going to get into the delivered races next time.

From a hygienic viewpoint, both at Franprix and Naturalia, the person in charge of security offers hydroalcoholic gel to customers entering. This was not the case during my last errands.

Franprix also amused me with its poster “product touched = product bought”.

Otherwise I am always surprised to see people who obviously only go out to buy the newspaper or a baguette. The confinement is variable geometry.

At the end of the day, the Vietnamese delivery arrives: with 9 kg of additional rice, the food shortage does not frighten us anymore ^^ The order in question is a “package” composed only of dry food and sauces. The package cost us 70€ including goods & delivery.

April 4, 2020 – Confinement day 19: Big trouble! Last night my computer shut itself down during a videoconference and… impossible to restart it!

This morning I call Apple’s support which after a few manipulations confirms me what I was afraid of: it will have to be repaired. Apple gives me the contact of two authorized centers in Paris since the Apple Stores are closed during this period of containment. They are both closed on weekends and I’m not under any illusions: I won’t have my computer for several days or even weeks. And given my professional activity, it’s impossible to work without a computer

Luckily, my friend Manu offered to lend me his old Macbook Air as a backup computer. It’s also exactly the same model as my old computer. So I’m making the round trip from Les Lilas to Neuilly en Uber and back. In case of an inspection, I have prepared a certificate of business travel, a Kbis extract from my company and my identity card. I didn’t need it but I think it would have been considered as a valid reason for travel.

So this is the first time I’ve ever been away from my confinement other than to go shopping or jogging. There is little traffic and the only people I see are obviously running errands. However, the driver tells me that he sees some slack, there were fewer people according to him last week. Arrived at Manu’s place, I am surprised by the calm: there is no noise related to the traffic, we can hear the birds!

The recovered computer, I’m relieved, it’s a big pain in the ass. I appreciate having all my documents in the cloud. With a good internet connection, I’m 100% operational after half a day of installation/configuration

April 5 – Confinement Day 20: The night before, I find myself with a rather violent backache. It’s true that our work table is a little small for two and we’ve been working on it for 3 weeks without being very well installed. As Anh has less work at the moment, she leaves me the table. I take the opportunity to rearrange the space, I’m much better like that 🙂

April 6 – Confinement day 21: As of this morning, the exit waiver certificate can be dematerialized. You fill out a form that generates a PDF that you can put on your phone. The PDF contains a QR code that can be read by law enforcement. As our printer ink cartridge was starting to emit alerts, this is very convenient.

The government doctrine on the use of masks is changing. Constrained by scarcity, the authorities have been saying from the beginning – despite common sense – that masks are useless if one isn’t sick. The discourse is changing and the use of masks is moving in the following direction:

  • For medical personnel: use of FFP2 or surgical masks that are imported and produced in France
  • For professions in contact with the public (policemen, cashiers, delivery men, …): use of alternative masks whose manufacturing process will have been approved and which will be manufactured by French manufacturers.
  • For the general public: encouragement to wear masks outside. As there will not be approved masks for everyone for months to come, the D system will be used. The French standardization association (AFNOR) even offers a pattern and specifications on its site so that everyone can make a barrier mask.

As a result, a parallel manufacturing industry is being set up and obviously, the Vietnamese are on it. Anh has a contact who offers artisanal masks for 3.5€ each. Anh even regrets not having a sewing machine and fabric to make them herself ^^ (not to sell but to give them away) more info here

April 7, 2020 – Confinement Day 22: We finally decide to go shopping for delivery. After a long time meticulously choosing our products at Casino, we realize that it’s not going to be that simple since there is no niche available. I feel that we will have to fight 🙂

The Paris City Hall and Prefecture have decided to restrict authorizations for sports practice. They will now be banned at 10 am and 7 pm. This follows the good weather that is coming and that encourages people to go out. This measure does not concern me for the moment because we aren’t in Paris intramuros but it wouldn’t surprise me if it is gradually extended to other cities

April 8, 2020 – Containment Day 23: Unsurprisingly, the government announces the extension of containment. No details on the deadline, more will be known Monday evening in a new speech by the president.

Now that deaths in HPAE are accounted for, we have just passed the 10,000 mark for coronavirus victims in France.

The few weeks of containment had a huge impact on the economy. In mid-February, the Bank of France estimated a growth of 0.3% for the first quarter of 2020, the coronavirus went through it and it is finally a 6% recession to which we are entitled. The strongest recession since… 1945 !

April 9, 2020 – Confinement Day 24: On his shopping trip yesterday, Anh finally managed to find some flour. We take advantage of this to make pancakes, yum!

Before going to bed, around half past midnight, I look for the umpteenth time to see if Casino has a delivery slot available for shopping and surprise, it does! We will be delivered next Wednesday.

April 10, 2020 – Confinement day 25: Taking advantage of the good weather, we open the show window much more. I am surprised to hear regular traffic. There seems to be a loosening in the confinement, let’s hope we won’t have to pay for it in a few weeks.

April 11, 2020 – Confinement Day 26: It’s impressive how quickly man adapts to new situations. Watching movies or series, I am amazed every time I see a crowd, characters kissing or shaking hands. The social distancing that we had never heard of until 2 months ago has become a form of normality. Let’s hope it doesn’t last too long though.

April 12, 2020 – Confinement day 27: While the trip had become routine for the last 4 years, the stop is quite brutal. This unexpected break allows us to regain awareness of how lucky we were to have this lifestyle. What will this crisis change? It is difficult to know if and when we will be able to resume our usual rhythm. I imagine that there will be no return to normal until we find a vaccine or a treatment, so not for many months.

I still hope that by September we will be able to regain the freedom of movement that will allow us to travel again in France and even in the Schengen area

Tomorrow evening Emmanuel Macron will speak. Not at 8 pm as usual but at… 20h02. Small com’ operation to avoid disturbing the daily applause for the nursing staff. Everyone expects a new extension of the confinement, perhaps until the end of May. I still hope that he will be able to explain the deconfinement strategy. The worst thing is to endure, without any control over events and without perspective.

April 13, 2020 – Containment Day 28: Monday, May 11 could be the start date for containment. This is what Emmanuel Macron said tonight in a speech that was too long. Barring unpleasant surprises, the schools will reopen on that date, a few weeks before the theoretical end of the school year. Probably to allow parents to return to work.

Restaurants, cafes, cinemas will not reopen until mid-July.

So that gives us at least one more month of confinement but at least, for the first time, we have a perspective, the end of the tunnel on the horizon. A few weeks after having explained to the French that masks were useless if one was not sick, the president explained that we will be able to get a “general public” mask from May 11th without any more precision. Surely the famous alternative masks.

He also said that from this date, anyone with symptoms will be able to benefit from testing. He felt compelled to add that “it wouldn’t make sense” to test everyone. Which is nonsense if you look at the mass testing strategies employed in South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan or Hong Kong for example.

Emmanuel Macron was cautious about the possible use of a tracking application which is much talked about at the moment. The subject of privacy protection being particularly sensitive. However, the technical solutions mentioned (bluetooth technology) seem acceptable at first sight since they wouldn’t use geolocation

Apart from that, a usual blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Edouard Philippe will surely come to do the after-sales service in the next few days.

The president’s entourage had evoked a Churchillian speech. He must be turning in his grave.

April 14, 2020 – Confinement day 29: Twitter day: in the morning I see Chernobyl in top trends. A fire that has been ravaging the exclusion zone for a few days now is getting dangerously close to the power plant, that’s all I needed…

In the afternoon, I see Amazon in the trends. The court of Nanterre has just condemned the American giant to limit its activities to essential products. Last night, learning that we were leaving for at least a month of confinement, we ordered an office to be more comfortable. Purchase realized… on Amazon. No idea what will become of our order…

April 15, 2020 – Confinement day 30: We are still very far from food shortage but we have to admit that it isn’t always possible to buy the food we want. We had already noticed this when we went to the Franprix, that’s what motivated us (in addition to the waiting time) to have our groceries delivered. Well… same fight!

I discover that there is a Picard not very far away, that will allow to vary a little the pleasures.

After the Olympic Games and the soccer Euro, it is today another sports monument, the Tour de France, which is staggered. It will take place in September.

April 16, 2020 – Containment Day 31: Already a month of containment! At the end of the day, I did my almost daily jogging in the woods next door, I hallucinated. At first, I was surprised by the number of people I met, much more than usual. But in 30 minutes, I saw: people playing petanque, some of them obviously coming back from a soccer game and even a group doing… a barbecue! Which in this wood is probably forbidden even outside the confinement period.

There are quite a few HLMs nearby and I can imagine that after a month confined to small areas we need to change our ideas a little but I must admit that it left me perplexed

April 18, 2020 – Confinement Day 33: Not much new at the moment, a sign that this extraordinary situation is gradually becoming ordinary. It has become usual to stay at home, it has become usual to stand in line to run errands, it has become usual not to find everything you want on the shelves, …

I came across this graph from Flightradar24 that shows worldwide commercial air traffic activity. There is less than 30% of the usual activity.

As often, the Quinzomadaire Society gratifies us with a magnificent cover. And yes, May 11… it’s far away…

April 20, 2020 – Confinement day 35: Morning deliveries: I go to La Poste to pick up a package that the letter carrier had indicated as “We couldn’t give you your package” (lol). I arrive for the opening at 9am and I wait about 20 minutes before I can enter since only 5 people at a time can enter the office. More and more in open shops and even directly on the sidewalk, there are markings on the ground to represent the distance of social distancing to be respected.

Our table ordered on Amazon also arrives. So we each have our own desk, it’s really cool. Unfortunately the table has suffered multiple shocks so that the wood doesn’t fit with the legs. It will do the job during the confinement but it will be complicated to resell it afterwards as we had planned. I’m going to see with Amazon if they can make a commercial gesture.

Finally, Anh receives all the paper she ordered to make DIY. All this in the early morning!

On Facebook, I see that the Lilac City Hall has ordered masks that it will make available to the population in the perspective of deconfinement. I’m not sure how the distribution will be organized. If we have to present a proof of address, it will be complicated for us 😀 We have taken the first steps anyway and we should soon receive some from the Vietnamese network. This story about masks is nevertheless symptomatic of major shortcomings in crisis management. For weeks now, the government has been saying that the masks have been ordered and are arriving. And since that doesn’t happen, it is the local authorities and the D system that will make it possible to equip everyone.

As a perfect illustration of the importance of oil in the business and the law of supply and demand, the barrel of WTI (North American oil) has fallen to 10 USD! It was 65 USD at the beginning of the year and even 114 USD in 2013! This can be explained by the collapse of demand (industry at a standstill) without any reduction in production and therefore in supply (Russia and Saudi Arabia are arguing over the subject and want to… ruin American producers who have high extraction costs). So much so that there are big problems of oil storage at the moment. An episode that will probably be taught in economics textbooks in the years to come.

A few hours after writing these lines, the barrel of oil (or more precisely its futures contracts for delivery in May) was even sold at a negative price, as the players preferred to give money to get rid of their barrels rather than having to store them. It went as low as -37 USD! A completely unprecedented situation to the point that most stock exchange sites did not know how to display negative values! I even read that some South Korean traders lost fortunes because they were trapped. Their computer system didn’t accept the entry of negative values…

April 21, 2020 – Confinement day 36 – A study by the Pasteur Institute tells us that less than 6% of French people will have been infected by the coronavirus by the date of deconfinement and that 70% of them would be needed for the country to benefit from collective immunity. We are very far from it! In other words, we will have to learn to live with the virus until a vaccine or treatment arrives and it will be difficult to avoid new peaks of contamination after deconfinement.

The future WTI, which now has a June delivery deadline, has risen to an unfortunate $13 and the oil issue is an additional cause for concern for the economic health of the months and years to come. Many American producers will go bankrupt, they will not pay off their heavy debts which will put banks in difficulty, thus causing a domino effect.

April 22, 2020 – Containment Day 37: I inquired about the mechanisms that led to the oil crash to the point of making actors pay to get rid of it. It’s quite simple: oil is traded on the financial markets viafutures contracts. The principle: you buy a barrel at a price X and you have to physically retrieve it at a time T and at a specific location. These futures contracts are generally bought by traders who speculate and ultimately sell it to a player who will exploit the oil

In our case, the futures contract for a May delivery had been trading since November 2014 and expired yesterday. Concretely, the actor who held the contract on the evening of April 21 had to physically go and retrieve the barrels of oil, transport and store them. Obviously we’re not talking about one barrel but large volumes representing tons. Traders who do not know how to manage these physical constraints had to manage to resell their contracts before April 21, if possible at a profit.

With the demand for oil being almost non-existent, prices were very low and traders were trapped by saying “wait, it will go up“. On top of that, storage capacity is running out and prices are exploding. Libération explained that the cost of renting the storage tankers still available had gone from 4000 to… 150 000 dollars a day in two months.

At the last moment, traders had to settle for paying up to $37 per barrel to avoid having them on their hands with nothing to worry about. That literally means paying to fill up your car with gas at the gas station. Amazing!

Today, we learn that more than 10 million people are partially unemployed, i.e. one out of every two private sector employees

April 23, 2020 – Confinement day 38: I don’t know if this is the first sign of a resumption of activity, but the public works below us that were interrupted at the beginning of the confinement resumed this morning. The workers are equipped with masks, which was surely a condition for resuming work. For the moment I would have done without them since it means a pleasant jackhammer music in the living room all day long. However, we can’t complain, I learned yesterday that scaffolding for the renovation of the facade of a colleague’s apartment had been erected the day before the announcement of the confinement. As a result, he has been confined in an apartment for more than a month without seeing daylight…

The deconfinement date is approaching, but it is clear that the authorities are navigating by sight. The Minister of the Interior Christophe Castaner explains this morning that the deconfinement “will not be the freedom to go everywhere“. We start to hear about a stop and go strategy consisting in alternating periods of confinement and deconfinement according to the occupancy rate of the resuscitation beds. The number of new cases in Germany is increasing again, even though the country seemed more or less out of the woods. Japan, which had reopened its schools a fortnight ago, is closing them again… In short, it seems more and more clear that we aren’t out of the woods yet and that we should not hope for a return to normal before a vaccine or a treatment comes out. Our way of life made of travel and freedom is compromised for long months.

Negative interest rates (big investors preferring to pay to lend to strong states rather than put money in a bank that might fail) have been known for some years. A few days ago it was discovered that traders were willing to sell barrels of oil at negative prices. Today I discover that it is electricity that is currently being sold at a negative price! Our economic system has become absurd.

The “wholesale price” of electricity in several countries is negative…

This situation seems to be caused by renewable energies whose production is neither modulable nor storable. Electricity is injected into the grid, which risks being congested if there isn’t enough demand. As the cost of stopping and then restarting a power plant would be much higher, we prefer to pay large industrial consumers to consume the electricity . This situation isn’t new and occurs several times a year but occurs much more regularly during this period when demand is much lower because many industries are shut down.

April 24, 2020 – Confinement day 39: More details on the study of the Pasteur Institute: according to its modeling, 6% of the population will have been infected on May 11, date of deconfinement. It is however very variable according to regions, the Ile de France and the Grand Est are the most affected with respectively 12.3 and 11.8% of the population affected. New Aquitaine, the least affected region, is 10 times less affected with 1.4%.

According to an EHESP study, 23% of the population would have been infected without the containment that would have prevented 60,000 coronavirus deaths to date. A study that does not take into account non-coronavirus-related deaths that would have inevitably occurred due to hospital overflow

Greenhouse gas emissions have decreased by 30% since the start of containment, mainly due to the collapse of road traffic. I couldn’t verify the source but I heard someone say that this was the decrease that had to be done every year until… 2050 to respect the Paris agreements and limit global warming to 2°C. In other words, it’s just not feasible.

A few weeks ago, with great fanfare, the government announced that it had ordered 10,000 respirators from a consortium of PSA – Valeo – Air Liquide – Schneider Electric, which urgently adapted their production capacities to manufacture these devices that were sorely lacking in the intensive care units. Unit cost €3,000, representing an order of €30 million.

After having manufactured 8,500 of them, a survey by France Inter learns today that they aren’t adapted to the treatment of coronavirus… In any war, there are heroes and broken arms…

April 27, 2020 – Confinement Day 42: As we enter our 7th week of confinement, the key word on everyone’s lips is deconfinement. Since it was announced for May 11th by the president it’s all a blur. No one is sure how it is going to happen and there is even cacophony on the subject of school reopenings for example. Not all schools? By half a class? Optional? We will know more tomorrow since the Prime Minister will present the deconfinement plan to the National Assembly

The other big topic is the future of summer vacations with contradictory injunctions: the French are exhausted by confinement and need a vacation. Tourism is at a standstill and needs to restart. Besides that, production has to restart and a take-off of the vacations in September is evoked.

On our side it shouldn’t change much. Teleworking should remain the norm for my main client, so we should confine ourselves for a while to see how it evolves. I hope that the Apple Store will reopen so that I can take my Mac to be repaired. Then we’ll think about moving, in the province or abroad, depending on what’s possible. While we liked to have a visibility of our itinerary over a few months, we’ve learned not to draw any more maps on the comet.

Anh received all the material she needed for her crepe paper flowers. She has been spending hours and hours for the past few days and the result is beautiful.

April 28, 2020 – Confinement Day 43: Edouard Philippe presented the deconfinement plan to the National Assembly at 3:00 pm. I was in a meeting at that time and I was lazy to watch the replay but here are the main points that were summarized by the media.

  • At first a stroke of pressure, the Prime Minister indicated that if the indicators were not good, the deconfinement scheduled for May 11 could be tightened or even postponed. Basically: the pressure must not be relaxed.
  • We will no longer need a certificate to go out within a radius of less than 100 km. Travel beyond that will remain prohibited except for “compelling reasons, family or professional”. I imagine that this is a point that will be specified later on.
  • Wearing the mask will be mandatory on public transport and will be available “without risk of shortage” in shops, via an e-commerce platform or distributed by local authorities. The Prime Minister wanted to be reassuring but we feel that it is the battleground a little everywhere on the subject.
  • An objective to carry out at least 700,000 virological tests per week from May 11th. These tests will be covered by the health insurance. I think we’ll try to do one. Apparently 12% of the population of Ile de France has been infected, I am curious to know if this is our case.
  • The deconfinement will be more or less strict depending on the department. From May 7, the “local authorities” will classify the department in “red” or “green” depending on the circulation of the virus. As we are in the 93 which has one of the highest mortality rates in the country, I might as well tell you that I have a little idea of the color we’re going to get. So I’m anxious to know what the differences are going to be in the red / green departments.
  • Brigades” will be set up so that, as soon as a case is detected positive, we can contact people who may have been in contact and invite them to confine themselves.
  • Schools and kindergartens will reopen gradually from May 11th on a voluntary basis. Colleges from May 18 in the least affected departments and a decision will be made later for a possible reopening in early June. What was suspected is now very clear: a “garderie” is needed so that the parents of young children can return to work. Older children will be able to stay home alone.
  • The train service will be reduced as much as possible to reduce transport between departments and regions.
  • Gatherings, whether public or private, are limited to 10 people.
  • The StopCovid tracking application currently under development will be debated and voted on in parliament. I am waiting to learn more about the specifications of this application to have an informed opinion, but it is very unlikely that I will agree to use such a device.
  • Teleworking is still in demand for the next 3 weeks. For companies for which this isn’t possible, it is encouraged to shift working hours to limit traffic on public transportation.
  • All businesses except bars / cafes / restaurants will be open again. Cinemas / museums / theaters / concert halls will remain closed at least until the beginning of June. Shops will be able to make the wearing of masks mandatory. Prefects may decide to leave large shopping centers of more than 40,000 m2 closed.
  • Short-time work measures will remain in place until June 1 and will be adjusted thereafter.
  • The capacity of public transportation will be reduced, in particular by condemning one seat out of two to respect social distancing. I can’t wait to see what this will mean for line 13 of the Paris metro…

Well… it might not change our daily life too much. We are going to continue teleworking as we have been doing for the last 3 years and we are going to stay confined to the maximum. Anh will surely take advantage of it to visit his cat Rosalie and I hope to be able to go to repair my pimp

The authorization to travel abroad has not been mentioned by the Prime Minister, but if it is possible, we will consider without rushing to go to Germany or Austria. It will also depend on the person subletting us the apartment, we had an agreement until the end of the confinement (she was initially supposed to move during this period). We had also considered to stay in France in another city but the 100 km radius of travel limits considerably the choices.

On the side of rumors, it would seem that the couple Emmanuel Macron – Edouard Philippe are in the process of divorce, their disagreements multiplying during this crisis. Not ideal to govern serenely in this context.

Much more anecdotally, the 2019 – 2020 sports seasons, including the soccer league 1, will not resume. Olympique de Marseille should therefore officially finish 2nd and play the Champions League next year. I should also be able to get my OM – PSG ticket refunded. In order to save cash and not make refunds, the commercial teams of the club were playing with words by arguing that the matches were not yet cancelled but only postponed. There are no excuses anymore.

The impact of the coronavirus on professional sport is going to be huge. In the case of soccer, most of the clubs are chronically loss-making and some of them will find it difficult to get back on their feet for at least 6 months without income from ticketing and TV rights (Canal Plus and Bein Sport refusing to pay for matches that did not take place). Without help, club bankruptcies cannot be excluded at all.

April 29, 2020 – Confinement Day 44: If the government believes that deconfinement is possible, it is obviously to revive the economic machine but also because the situation is getting better. The number of daily deaths is falling in France and in many of the countries affected. Hospitals remain under pressure but have not exploded in flight

Will deconfinement cause a second wave of contamination? No one knows and that’s what’s at stake. Now that we know that herd immunity is illusory, as long as the virus circulates and there is no vaccine or treatment, the risk will be real

We are at more than 218,000 deaths worldwide, including 23,000 in France. It will probably take years before we have precise estimates of the number of victims. The official figures for most countries are very incomplete, either because of a political will to minimize the situation or because of difficulties in collecting information. In France, for example, deaths at home due to covid aren’t counted. The union of MG doctors in France estimates that at least 9,000 victims should be added. It will take years before we have a more or less reliable estimate of the number of deaths. At the end of the 2009 H1N1 influenza, the WHO counted 18,000 confirmed deaths. It was not until 2012 that a study by epidemiologists, based on statistical models, estimated the actual number of deaths to be in the very wide range of 150,000 to 575,000.

Once this epidemic is over – and therefore not for a long time to come – we will also have to question the relevance of the containment that has brought the global economy to a standstill. Sweden is one of the few countries in the world that has not decreed containment. Its death toll curve compared to its neighbors is impressive (Sweden has a population 2x larger, however). But the economic crisis that will follow will also have its share of victims

April 30, 2020 – Containment Day 45: We’re going to have to move! With the upcoming deconfinement, the apartment we are subletting will have a new occupant at the beginning of June. The current tenant must plan a time to empty the apartment so we must leave the premises by the end of May at the latest

We plan to go to Rouen, a pleasant city, easily accessible from Paris and which is almost (within 15 kilometers) within 100 kilometers of authorized travel. I think that a “move” would be a valid reason to travel further, but it would be better not to complicate things. We are starting to look for Airbnb and would like to get there by mid-May, just after the deconfinement. We fear indeed a second wave of contamination followed by a reconfinement which would block us where we are. To be continued.

Always a frenzy of masks, we receive a few masks ordered from the Vietnamese industry. They are comfortable, produced in factory in Vietnam, they are anti-bacterial, anti-aerosols and washable 30 times. We now have a total of 3 masks each (including the Nepalese anti-pollution mask) which should do the job

At the same time, I receive an e-mail from our mutual insurance company Alan who offers me to send masks for free before the end of May. As we have what it takes, we pass our turn, there will be more for the others. Very nice initiative, bravo Alan!

It was thought that the country would be cut in two: red and green. It will finally be in three: red, orange and green. The Ministry of Health has just released the first deconfinement map. This map will be updated daily and presents a synthesis of two criteria: hospital tension and the circulation of the virus

We’ll skip over the fact that we learn in college that a map without a legend makes no sense, but we guess it’s better to be in a green department than a red one. Not surprisingly, we are in red. There are still no precise details on the differences implied by the colors, especially since the local authorities will have some leeway on this. A priori it will concern the opening or not of parks, schools, … but should not imply freedom of movement. We are counting on it because we will have to leave our apartment.

May 1, 2020 – Confinement day 46: We found our accommodation in Rouen. We will leave on May 14th, the Thursday of the first week of deconfinement in order to move as quickly as possible and avoid getting stuck by a possible reconfinement.

Rouen isn’t quite within the 100 km radius but it should do it.

The accommodation we found is a little expensive but it is a large apartment, well placed, with a beautiful view, fiber optics, … We will stay there from mid-May to the end of July (2 1/2 months in the same place, it hasn’t happened to us since… 4 years !). By hoping that we will have found our freedom of movement by then and that we will be able to leave on vacations somewhere in August

After 1 1/2 month of confinement, I have the impression that we aren’t far from the limit acceptable to Parisians who live in small apartments. From our window, we have a view on the garden that our neighbors are lucky enough to have. Since a few days, they obviously make their relatives benefit from it…

May 2, 2020 – Confinement Day 47: Until a few months ago, Asian tourists wearing masks in Paris were stared at with amusement or mockery. Now, masks occupy everyone’s mind and I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes a habit of collective hygiene even after the crisis is behind us.

First outing to go shopping with my new Vietnamese mask and the result is disappointing. It isn’t very comfortable to wear and it causes a mist on my glasses which makes it unusable. Anh will try to fix it accordingly because it seems to have a great efficiency in terms of filter.

The polemic of the day concerns once again the masks. With a view to deconfinement, the mass distribution has obtained the right to sell masks in stores from Monday, May 4. Major retailers have already announced that tens of millions of masks will be on sale from Monday and hundreds of millions will be available for the deconfinement date. This announcement is causing a stir at a time when healthcare workers are still being rationed due to the shortage. Parliamentarians accuse the mass retail sector of having kept hidden stocks when these were requisitioned by the state at the height of the crisis

From what I have read left to right, the truth is quite different.

  • In recent years, the State has not renewed the strategic stockpile in order to make end-of-the-candle savings
  • It took a long time to react and began to place orders at a time when global demand and competition from other countries was at its peak
  • The state was unable to show flexibility and responsiveness and demanded payment terms of 60 to 90 days. Suppliers therefore preferred to sell to other buyers on a priority basis

Next to that the mass distribution

  • Has central purchasing groups whose job it is to do so
  • Possesses logistics networks and long-standing relationships with Chinese suppliers
  • Was able to pay in advance for priority delivery

Seeing the efficiency gap is quite cruel for our administration.

May 3, 2020 – Confinement Day 48: Since the first deconfinement card was made public, local elected officials from departments have been rising up: according to them, their red or orange color is unjustified.

Today, the government has just announced the deconfinement plan, specifying the differences between departments. If you look closely there is almost… no difference other than the opening of colleges and access to parks. It was well worth it to make all the local elected officials angry.

In recent weeks, the situation has become tense between the United States and China, with the former accusing the latter of minimizing the danger of the virus and falsifying the figures. Since a few days, the subject of the origin of the virus has been on the table. While it was thought to be of animal origin, the American administration claims that it has evidence that it finally came from a laboratory in Wuhan, the city that was the cradle of the epidemic.

Masks always, the D system continues and it is the newspaper Le Monde which proposes in its weekend edition a pattern to make its own mask.

I was able to organize the logistics of our “move” to Rouen. Because of the period of confinement, we are less light than usual (purchase of books, material for the DIY of Anh, food, …) we therefore preferred to rent a car. I don’t know if it’s related to the situation but it cost 3 times more to get a car in Paris and return it to Rouen than to get it in Paris and return it to the same place. So I will make the round trip Paris – Rouen then Rouen – Paris and then take the train.

I will be able to walk to the rental agency and then to the train station to avoid taking the subway. The SNCF has indicated that only one place out of two will be sold in the TGV to respect social distancing. For my part it will be a TER, we’ll see what has been planned. I will have to find hydroalcoholic gel to be able to regularly wash my hands during this day.

May 4, 2020 – Containment Day 49: What if the coronavirus could cause lasting positive change? One change that seems obvious is the boost it will bring to the democratization of teleworking. This is the meaning of history, but the epidemic will probably save us 10 years in the evolution of mentalities on the subject.

Another change could be the planning of cities to leave more room for bicycles

When I lived in Paris, I was a regular user of Velib, which was the most suitable mode of travel for short everyday trips. But I had to admit that it was a dangerous mode of transportation because of the lack of facilities

With the coming deconfinement, one obsession of the authorities is to limit the use of public transport as much as possible. Throughout the Ile-de-France region, new bicycle paths are being developed as a matter of urgency. They are temporary but could last. At any rate, this is the wish of Anne Hidalgo, a staunch supporter of cycling in Paris, which has earned her the dislike of many motorists

Like telecommuting, a larger share for bicycles in cities is an evidence that goes in the direction of history. This crisis will save us a few years

Christophe Castaner said that from May 11, the people of Ile-de-France will be able to return home, even if they have been exiled more than 100 km away. They will have to provide themselves with a derogatory certificate. Even if I was not particularly worried, it reassures me all the more for our move to Rouen, 115 km away ^^.

Anxious to ensure that the rules of social distancing are respected, the authorities exercise a form of blackmail to deconfinement that would be pushed back if the rules were not followed. This communication irritates me. I understand the call for civic-mindedness, common sense, … The infantilisation after almost 50 days of confinement, no

May 6, 2020: Confinement day 51: After a few days of rain, the weather is good again. Added to the approaching deconfinement, I have the impression that many are beginning to deconfirm prematurely. I saw a lot of people during my little jog at the end of the day and the petanque court was full.

The reopening of the kindergarten and primary classes next Tuesday (the teachers resume the day before) promises to be a big mess. I spoke this morning with a teacher friend who was worried about the use of masks. The teachers should get a supply of two surgical masks a day but they have not received any instructions on how to use them. Some of her colleagues are considering not wearing them in class but only in the corridors and during recess, which doesn’t seem very logical to me

The town hall of Les Lilas, where we are currently located, announced on Facebook that the new school year would begin on May 18th, one week later. The press release does not hesitate to tackle the lack of anticipation of the government by specifying that if the President of the Republic announced the reopening of the schools on April 13, it was only on May 3 that the town halls received a health protocol.

More pleasing optics, when it will be possible to travel again, we may become subsidized digital nomads. To boost the tourist economy, the tourist office of Sicily in Italy has announced a budget of 50 million euros to finance 50% of visitors’ plane tickets, one night in a hotel and free access to archaeological sites. The conditions remain to be specified, but if this type of scheme develops elsewhere, it is possible that an opportunistic itinerary will be envisaged to go to the most welcoming regions.

May 7, 2020 – Containment Day 51: In anticipation of our “move” on Thursday where we will spend the day outside without the opportunity to wash our hands, Anh was able to purchase a hydroalcoholic solution from a pharmacy. 3.25 € per 100ml bottle. That doesn’t seem excessive, but it is still more expensive than the 2.64 € corresponding to the ceiling set by decree by the Ministry of Economy.

Hand-crafted in the pharmacy, you can see it in the packaging. The demand is such that the usual suppliers can’t keep up, leaving the place to the D system. It amuses me to say that during our first year of world tour, we went around for several months with a hydroalcoholic gel that we never used. Today it has become a rare product 🙂

In a long press conference lasting more than an hour and a half, Edouard Philippe, accompanied by several ministers, presented the deconfinement plan. A little bit of pressure at the beginning since he started by indicating that there were two regions of concern: Mayotte and Ile de France. Mayotte sees its deconfinement postponed to later and Ile de France a “reinforced discipline”

Travel within the 100 km limit will be measured as the crow flies and a new certificate will be available for travel beyond this limit.

The other novelty is the detail concerning the tests. In case of suspicion of coronavirus, the doctor will be able to prescribe a test. If it turns out to be positive, contact cases (people who have been in contact with the infected person) will be asked to confine themselves and will themselves be tested 7 days after the contact. If the test is positive, they will be confined for 8 to 10 days. If the test is negative, they will still have to be confined for another 7 days.

May 9, 2020 – Confinement day 53: It’s flood time tonight in Île de France! Impressive thunderstorms with incessant lightning and even floods. The sky is sending us a message, it does not want to deconfinement.

May 10, 2020 – Containment Day 54: Last day of containment! For us, it’s not going to change much in our daily lives until Thursday, the date of our migration to Rouen. Even once there, we’ll stay a maximum in our housing until we see if a second wave of contamination arrives.

The New York Times teaches us the art of layout with this masterful piece showing the incredible scale of job destruction in the United States during the month of April.

Meanwhile, the social security recruits “Client Advisors” who will be responsible for contacting “patient zero” and “contact persons” to invite them to confine themselves.

This year 2020 is definitely worthy of an end-of-the-world scenario of a series on Netflix. After the arrival of the coronavirus in China, the confinement everywhere in the world, the Chernobyl forest on fire, Australia burning, … it is now a strong smell of sulfur accompanied by an orange sky that worries in Ile de France a few hours before the deconfinement.

Firefighters are communicating that the odour isn’t from any ongoing response and is likely related to the weather.

May 11, 2020 – Deconfinement Day 1: Containment is over! Thank you for following him. To keep track of the important events that will follow, I will continue with a deconfinement log. I hope that it will be less loaded with news and that I will be able to close it as soon as possible.

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