Amazon Distribution Center, Madrid (Wikipedia Photo)
Planning for Deconfinement
Wednesday, April 29, 2020 • Paris, France
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Dear Parler Paris Reader,
Online purchasing is a godsend. I always liked to order online and now it's a necessity. Monoprix, only open because it's a large supermarket and general store, didn't carry the particular lightbulb I needed. I didn't want to go into the pharmacies (where there are sick people) to find the herbal remedies and immune boosters I wanted to take. The "mini-ventilateur" (little fan) that keeps the computer equipment under my desk cool died and therefore overheating, and slowing down my Internet. My at-home thong sandals bit the dust after too many years of wear. I ran out of salon-brand shampoo and cream rinse. I couldn't find a protective mask anywhere.
You're getting the picture...with all the stores shut tight, I thank my lucky stars for online purchasing and at-home delivery. There are a few caveats, however. With the post offices closed, if the delivery person didn't find me at home (that doesn't mean I wasn't there; it just means he didn't make much of an effort to find me), the item would go back to the P.O. for me to pick up at a later date. But, the local P.O. was closed for five weeks, so I had to wait till it reopened to get my goods. It did finally open, and I did finally...get my goods. The delivery people do manage to stay far away and hand me the box gingerly. I open the box, take out the goods, spray them all down with alcohol or wash them and wash my hands, tossing the box outside for fear of contamination!
The producers of House Hunters International are organizing a show for me to do with John Garland Jones who is in Nice, virtually. It's part of a "Where Are They Now?" concept — bringing back some of the contributors from the past and taping them in their current habitats. In order to be set up for such a venture, the producers sent us special equipment (via Federal Express, not the French P.O.) and with it came this note:
* Please note that deliveries should be opened outside of your apartment/house where appropriate. (I failed to do that.) * All packages of equipment to your home should be wiped down with alcohol wipes before opening. (I did that.) * Wipe down the contents of each individual package as you unpack the equipment. (I did that.) * If collecting equipment from outside the home, please wear gloves, mask and follow your countries restrictions and guidelines policy on time spent outdoors. (Fortunately, I didn't have to do that.) * If collecting from post office or individual mailbox, please wipe down with alcohol wipes and follow social distancing guidelines for your country. * Please store original equipment packaging in a safe place with any padding/packing materials. (Where is safe?)
Oh my! This is more frightening than going to the supermarket!
Amazon is sadly off my radar now that its six French warehouses are closed till May 5th, as the French court rejected its appeal against the ruling to forbid Amazon from delivering "non-essential" items during the Covid-19 crisis. "Non-essential" is defined as digital products, office goods, pet supplies, groceries, drinks and personal care products. what about the light bulb or the mini-fan or the sandals? Do the protective masks qualify? Who gets to decide what is essential or not?
Believe it or not, Amazon would have been fined €1 million for each infraction! But, thanks to the appeal, that was reduced to €100,000. That frightened Amazon decision-makers so much that they preferred to shut down altogether than take the risk of the hefty fines. That means 10,000 workers out of work since mid April.
In an article in the New York Times by Paris journalist Liz Alderman this past week, a chief executive of the company claimed that there was concrete evidence that they had been fully prepared with health precautions for their workers to fulfil the requirements, but that didn't seem to woo the judges enough to let the online retail giant operate in France. To offset that, their warehouses in other parts of Europe will be filling the orders. Oh good. Let's let the Germans or the Belgians get sick, instead.
The bottom line is that the workers want to work. "This week, around 15,000 workers signed a petition urging the reopening of distribution centers." And what about the rest of us? Don't all of us in quarantine matter, too? How do we live without Amazon?
Edouard Philippe on France24
Yesterday, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe spoke at the National Assembly with detailed plans on "how to live with the virus" during deconfinement as of May 11th. Shops and markets will open, but not cafés and restaurants (I guess I'll still be cooking at home). Mask-wearing will be largely recommended, and must be provided to all workers, with masks on sale at the P.O. website. (Glad the P.O. reopened!) Testing will start the week of May 11th, to the tune of 700,000 per week. Anyone testing positive will be asked to isolate themselves for 14 days.
Philippe boasted that confinement prevented 70,000 deaths in France, noting the importance of the confinement and restrictions, while understanding that the longer we're locked down, the tougher the battle will be to recover the economy and the repercussions of kids missing school and friends and family lacking personal contact. But history has shown that with the last pandemic, the Spanish flu that lasted from 1918 to 1919, the cities that locked down longer, ultimately performed better economically once the disease was really out of their system.
All this isn't carved in concrete. If the number of cases goes higher than 3,000 per day, the lockdown could easily last longer. Some areas of France will have to follow different regulations depending on how well or badly they perform. The current number of deaths in France is in excess of 23,000.
I'm already planning for my own deconfinement. I made an appointment for a dental teeth cleaning — hopefully my dentist will be fully equipped to prevent contamination. Have you seen the news that "Dentists in France have launched a campaign against the lack of protective equipment and being forced to work in an emergency in a pandemic, risking their lives" by photographing themselves naked to show how defenseless and vulnerable they are to infection!? See this report if you don't believe me!
My manicurist has already called me to let me know that I'm at the top of the list the moment they have an opening date in order for me to make an appointment. (She wears a mask as a normal procedure anyway!)
And I can't wait for my housekeeper to return so I can show off what I good job I did in her absence. My apartment has never been cleaner! Ha!
P.S. Need a new book to read? Then order Cara Black's latest mystery, Three Hours in Paris (if you can from Amazon or elsewhere) — “Beyond Black’s encyclopedic knowledge of Paris, her deft interweaving of WWII history and spycraft with a relatable female protagonist puts Three Hours in Paris on par with other top thrillers about botched missions followed by harrowing escapes, such masterworks as Frederick Forsythe’s The Day of the Jackal, Jack Higgins’ The Eagle Has Landed and Tom Clancy’s Patriot Games.” —Paula Woods, Los Angeles Times.
Cara will be speaking at Après Midi on September 8, 2020, about this latest book!
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