Cities distribute masks as public ignore lockdown

by Steve Martindale

The French government has received criticism for discussing how the lockdown might be lifted after increasing numbers of people have been ignoring the quarantine rules. After proposing on Friday 3rd April that the lockdown might eventually be phased out in stages – geographically and by risk group – the weekend saw larger numbers of people taking to the streets across the country in the belief that the worst could be over.

On Monday, however, France recorded its record number of deaths since the outbreak began, with 833 people succumbing to the virus on 6th April.

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Coronavirus: Digital confinement forms available online

by Steve Martindale

UPDATED 06/04/2020:

As promised last week, the government has unveiled its new digital solution for the compulsory confinement forms. Although initially announced as a smartpone app, the forms are actually generated as PDF documents through the Interior Ministry website – To generate your digital certificates, visit the website via your smartphone, tablet or computer, click on the link for “attestation de déplacement” and fill in the online questionnaire. The information required is your surname, first name, date of birth, place of birth and address, as well as the reason for your journey. This remains exactly the same as on the current paper attestation.

After filling in the information online, a PDF file is generated with a QR Code containing all the data from the form, as well as the date and time of generation of the document. There is no need for a physical signature. This PDF file must be presented during any control via your smartphone or tablet, allowing officers to scan the QR code to retrieve the relevant information.

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Contrôle technique extended by 3 months

by Steve Martindale

The Coronavirus lockdown was introduced as a public health measure, but the effects of quarantine have impacted all aspects of life. The government has gradually been introducing legislation to mitigate these problems, but one grey area that quickly emerged surrounded the contrôle technique (CT), the French equivalent of the MOT.

It is illegal to drive without a valid CT, and if your car fails with minor faults you usually have two months to fix any problems. Many drivers were due to renew their car’s CT during recent weeks or were already in the two-month period when the lockdown began, which has left thousands in limbo. Although contrôle technique centres are among the list of businesses allowed to remain open, many have chosen to close to protect their employees. As a result, many drivers are unsure as to whether they can legally drive their vehicles to make essential journeys.

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Asterix creator Albert Uderzo dies aged 92

by Steve Martindale

Albert Uderzo, one of the creators of the beloved comic book character Asterix, has died in Paris aged 92. “Albert Uderzo died in his sleep at home in Neuilly of a heart attack, with no links to the coronavirus,” the French press quoted his son-in-law, Bernard de Choisy, as saying. “He had been very tired for several weeks.”

Uderzo created the famous stories about the adventures of Gaulish warriors fighting the Roman Empire in 1959 with his friend René Goscinny. As well as illustrating the series, Urderzo took over the writing following Goscinny’s death in 1977 until himself retiring from the role in 2009 and passing on the rights to the franchise. The books have sold 370 million copies worldwide, in dozens of languages, and several stories have been turned into cartoons and feature films. The series continues to this day under new ownership, with the most recent book, Asterix and the Chieftain’s Daughter, released in October last year.

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Go to work on an egg

by Julia Watson

When she worked as a copywriter, British novelist Fay Weldon created the slogan, “Go to work on an egg”. It was a brilliant punning directive that my mother took as a command. Every morning for breakfast before school, my sister and I were presented with a hard boiled one. As soon as I left home, I vowed never to eat another boiled egg again.

But this April is a special month for eggs. Easter is observed and the shops are stacked with chocolate versions. Hens are happily, as opposed to unhappily, back outside, producing what’s expected of them. Everywhere, eggs are being celebrated.

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The Wines of Bergerac – Buying wine under lockdown

by Martin Walker

Despite all the worries, writing about wine in these troubling days of the coronavirus and under lockdown has its benefits. This is the time to review your own cellar, whether it be a handful of bottles or a whole underground cave lined wall-to-wall with liquid treasures. This is also an excellent time to plan for your enjoyment of wines in the future.

Lots of winemakers in the Bergerac are under real financial pressure since so many of their sales outlets have had to close and the lockdown means you cannot visit the vineyards to taste and buy on the spot. The best way to help is to contact your favourite winemaker by phone or email and ask if you can buy a bon d’achat. That means you pay him a hundred euros or whatever now by cheque or credit card, and in return you get a credit note for that amount of wine when you can next visit the vineyard.

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