At Chalet Bluebell by Jane Sayer
“Coronavirus … There are many, it won’t be anything serious!…” says Jane,
how wrong could I be!!
It was way back in February 2020 I was sat having my breakfast in a small hotel in St Gervais with my pal Penny, we always try and go for 3 or 4 days skiing to another resort each winter after the initial start of the ski season. It is the best time to ski, my staff and guests are always settled in well and it gives me a small break after a very intense first month…completely refreshes me for the whole of the season to follow.
“Gosh there’s an outbreak of this flu virus thingy in Les Contamines says Penny, that’s just up the road from here 9 people in a catered chalet have it brought back from Singapore by 1 of the guests a doctor “ Oh dear I said that must be a nightmare for them I hope we don’t get it!
Then that was the end of the conversation and we started to plan our day’s skiing munching away through our croissants and coffee.
Roll on another 4 weeks to March 2020 …………we had had a great season plenty of guests great staff good snow then suddenly this virus was in the news all the time never for 1 minute did I expect what was coming!
Saturday, March 14th Mr Macron was going to speak to the country at 2000 hours, we had guests leaving the following morning and guests arriving. I had better check if our ski lifts will be open so popped into The Sagets lift companies head office to ask Yes for sure they said at 1700 hours, rejoicing I went back to phone all the expected arrivals to pack their bags and get on the flights tomorrow to come and enjoy some lovely spring skiing!
Dinner in the chalet that evening was all talk about the virus we had a bunch of lady doctors in who started to say the government had been planning with the NHS for months a plan to accommodate all the expected covid cases a pandemic was about to explode. Operating theatres would become intensive care units …then I thought this is going to be HUGE! Here in the Alps we had no idea of the gravity and realism of the situation until 2000 hrs when Mr Macron spoke to the nation here in France and Boris spoke to the Uk.
It was like war had been declared we were all going to be locked down! Devastation! It was WAR, a war against the virus!
Stay at home wash your hands wear a mask stay 2 meters apart, we heard that over and over again.
Was this really happening!
Oh well it will only be for a couple of weeks we thought.
No No No this can’t be happening! I called the guests due to arrive the following day they of course had just been briefed by Boris so couldn’t come anyway.
Staff flew home on Monday all except Jack my brother in law who had come out to help us in January and Jiri our chef who lived in Prague and had 2 flights cancelled.
The road to Geneva airport on Sunday and Monday was like a Tsunami was about to happen busy exiting traffic.
The village became quickly empty that week we had a lot of transfers to do to get people out before planes stopped.
We had to download forms to give us permission to go out which was literally for a weekly visit to the supermarket for an essential shop.
We had a busy week getting people back to Geneva to fly out all youngsters under 23 were excitedly planning their welcome home parties and meet ups with friends and family , I said to them as I asked them to wear masks in the vans “ You wont be going anywhere you will be locked down” they simply laughed and took it as a joke and some refused to wear a mask. I drove to the airport with all windows open!
Was this really happening!
Then bang at the end of that week everyone gone we started with a small tickly cough within hours we felt flulike and cold. I remember it well, it hit me like a stone I needed a hot bath to get warm and just wanted to go to bed it was 1400 in the afternoon, I took 2 paracetamol and did exactly that; my temp was rising and I felt dreadful! Rob was the same so were Jack and Jiri.
We all took to our beds was this Covid!
Yes, it was!
The next day I was up and ok not 100% but well enough to start my season end deep steam clean of the chalet. Rob was still pyrexic 38.8 I filled him up with paracetamol and water and hope he got no worse! Jack and Jiri likewise a couple of days in bed then they improved. None of us lost our sense of taste or smell which was a significant symptom.
By 19th March, there were no planes in the sky in Europe, no travel, no schools open it was like a deserted world. 3rd April UK closed schools
13th April Mr Macron updates us to say another month of lockdown. Mr Trump wants the USA to drink a disinfectant !!!! For goodness sake!
April–May 2020: First peak
During early April, the numbers of deaths from coronavirus increased dramatically, with more than 10,000 people dying during that period of time.
The lockdown had initially been planned for 15 days, then for 30 days, but on 13 April, Macron announced that the lockdown period would be extended until 11 May.
So routines of steam cleaning and painting the outside of the chalet start, the weather is gloriously hot and sunny the skies are clear, Captain Tom starts to walk miles in his back yard for charity, the 1800 hours UK briefing from the Uk government become the cut off between working and relaxing. The numbers escalate, this pandemic is not going away any time soon.
Life is down to 1 km walks the village of Les Gets is empty, the outside walls of The Bluebell are looking sparking new with paint.
Easing of Lockdown
May 11th Macron announces a slight lifting of lockdown, 26000 people have died since March1st.
June 2nd sees a further easing of lockdowns, cafes and bars can reopen so long as we maintain 1 metre distance, we can travel 100km maximum, go to the beach or a park and secondary schools go back to school, a bit of normality is being restored !
Are we over the worst I do hope so !! However the Uk is still locked down.
On 11 May, as daily cases had dropped to under 100 per day, primary schools and some middle schools were allowed to reopen in what was the first steps to reopening the economy.
On 28 May, Édouard Philippe announced that a travel ban of 100 km (62 miles) would be lifted on 2 June. Cafes, bars and restaurants were also allowed to reopen on the same day. This easing of restrictions did not apply to Paris.
June–July: Easing of restrictions
On 14 June, Cafes, Restaurants and Pubs were allowed to reopen in Paris.
On 22 June, Cinemas, holiday centres, sports halls for group sports, all crèches, schools, and colleges (middle school) were allowed to reopen in what was the third stage of reopening the economy.
Life could get back to some normality and more importantly so could we and we could get out on the boat down in Sciez
On 1 July, France reopened its borders with non-European Union countries.
On 3 July, Philippe resigned as Prime Minister and was replaced by Jean Castex. Castex had previously been appointed coordinator of the phasing out of the lockdown (confinement) implemented in France.
On 10 July, the State of Health Emergency in France came to an end, essentially ending the lockdown. However, there were still restrictions on social distancing.
On 15 July, Olivier Véran announced that from 24 July, face coverings would be compulsory in all public indoor spaces and some outdoor public areas such as the Eiffel Tower.
So the new normal of holidaying started as France commenced its summer holiday season.
I bought an electrostatic sprayer to kill all the virus off
I had no staff so my lovely niece Ellie and her partner Adam came with the 3 girls and Jamie. I had instant staff! Mia 14 very capable as a normal chalet girl, Mollie 12 learning the ropes and doing well, Olivia 9 becomes the perfect ironer! Jamie not sure he’s definitely a boy! The dog Bess came too and terrified the cat Smudge to become neurotic!
But what a lovely summer we had with French, Italian Spanish and Swiss guests all for the new social distancing experience.
Of course it was inevitable that with everyone travelling cases would rise.
And during August they did. In the week ending 16 August, more than 10,000 case were reported during that week. On 28 August, France set a new record for the number of new cases in a single 24-hour period with 7,379 new cases reported. With this in mind, Paris made it compulsory to wear face coverings in most public spaces.
Our summer season ended as the French went back to school
On 12 September, France recorded more than 10,000 new cases in a single 24-hour period for the first time. Deaths had also begun to rise again, with 154 recorded on 18 September, the highest since 17 May and the first time daily deaths increased by more than 100 since 16 June.
We prayed we would not be locked down to 1km and we weren’t. Les Gets was again deathly quiet…
On 5 October, Paris once again shut its pubs, restaurants and cafes over a resurgence in cases, the second city to do so after Marseille. However, the government kept insisting that they would not impose a second nationwide lockdown.
On 10 October, France recorded its then biggest daily increase in new cases with 26,896 new infections. President Macron announced in an interview on prime-time television on 14 October that in view of the vertiginous spread of the disease in several major cities, there would be 9pm–6am curfews imposed in areas which have become hotspots for the virus in the country, to last for 4 weeks; the financial aid measures and furloughing scheme for affected business would be re-introduced.
On 15 October, France became the first country in Europe to record more than 30,000 cases in a day, with 30,621 cases reported. This increase pushed France over the 800,000 mark in terms of cases, only the third country in Europe to reach this figure.
On 22 October, Prime Minister of France Jean Castex extended the overnight curfew to 38 more departments as cases surged, affecting 46 million people (67% population).
On 23 October, France’s confirmed cases of COVID-19 passed 1 million. The total number of confirmed cases was 1,048,075, with an increase of 42,032, the highest daily rise in a 24-hour period.
The autumn weather was lovely so we were able to cycle around quite pleasantly.
On 25 October, daily cases topped 50,000 for the first time, with a total of 52,013 new cases reported.
On 28 October, Macron announced on a televised address that France would enter a second nationwide lockdown from 30 October that would last until at least 1 December. Non-essential businesses such as pubs and restaurants would close but schools and factories would remain open. We now knew there was going to be no winter season for us though they would not commit to definitely saying, so I was just taking bookings on a save the date basis!
It was never going to happen! How were we going to manage another winter and no income?
It was relatively mild and we still managed to get out cycling a bit among the beautiful autumn colours! The first snow of winter fell a good fall on 26th October and it laid, a true sign of a good season of snow!
November 2020 – On 5 November, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo announced further restrictions in Paris after some citizens were caught disobeying existing rules. These included requiring food shops to close at 10:00 pm in order to prevent people from gathering there. On 12 November, French Prime Minister Jean Castex said in a press conference that any loosening of restrictions at the start of December would be “strictly limited,” meaning businesses like restaurants, bars and sports halls would remain closed. He also stated that 1 in 4 deaths in France was at that time due to COVID-19.
We obtained negative PCR tests and went for 3 weeks to Gran Canaria where the virus numbers were very low and enjoyed a break we were so lucky, lots of sun and swimming and cycling and a holiday !!!
Returning home without problems to more new snow on December 1st, fit and excited for the winter……if only it was to be normal.
December 3rd the Mayor gave a speech in front of the Mairie to tell us all to be courageous and stay safe and there would be no opening of the lifts ……DISASTER !!
SKI TOURING BECAME THE NEW SPORT FOR MANY AND RAQUETING, LUGE ETC AND IT SNOWED AND SNOWED AND SNOWED AND SNOWED! TYPICAL! IT WOULD HAVE BEEN THE BEST START TO A SEASON FOR A DECADE!
December 17th Mr Macron tested positive for COVID-19.
And our season should have been open.
IT’S THE FIRST XMAS OFF FOR ME FOR 40 YEARS I ALWAYS WORKED NURSING AT XMAS TIME, IT’S SO BIZARRE!
Guests can arrive for bed and breakfast only the 2000 hour curfew is in place and guests bring takeaway meals back to eat socially distanced in the dining room!
I am busy if only for a week of the new year holidays!
On 27 December, a 78-year-old woman became the first person in France to get vaccinated against COVID-19. She received the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at the René-Muret Hospital in Sevran, Seine-Saint-Denis.
BREXIT DAY! Now that brings problems of it’s own for us Brits especially for the Swiss permits to work for Ski Transfers.com The UK news of vaccines breaks and life looks like it has a glimmer of hope. Mr Macron gives all businesses some financial help to cope with their loss. The snow keeps falling and falling it’s very very cold but glorious on the mountains it would have been the best ever season!!
Rob and I decide as we have no business we may as well use our time sensibly and renew our bedroom floors, and sand and varnish all the bedroom wood furniture. A huge job but it would pass the wintertime.
We also enjoyed getting out on the mountain to skin up for a couple of hours for a 5-minute ski down. Had the best powder consecutively for many years, Just blooming typical!! So life continued through January and vaccines start though France is not as quick as the UK. I am beginning to wonder if we may still be in this mess next year, but bookings are coming in again on a save the date basis.
February 21. No UK guests as Boris says no to travel!
But Mr Macron is allowing the French to travel within France as all departments are the same Covid levels. Still 20,000 plus new cases a day everywhere!
The French holidays start and I am fairly full of bed and breakfast guests, all socially distanced, all bringing takeaway meals back to eat. I have never seen the village so full of people. The ice rink is heaving, there are buses running people up Chavannes road to ski down or sledge down. The bus is full we start to call it the Covid bus!! There’s no social distancing going on in it! Very alarming!
The Apreski bar is busy until 1800 every day, the restaurants have queues outside for takeaways, kids are sledging in huge numbers on the piste and the alpine sports take on a new meaning! The children’s motoscooters by the lake are fully booked very day until the end of season, there are no raquettes or randonée skis or cross country skis to rent, everything is rented out! But the alpine skis are still in the racks in the ski shops.
At 18:00 hours the curfew is still on and everyone is in their chalets. Here at The Bluebell the fire is lit the curtains are drawn and its very socially distanced cozy!
Rob and I continue skinning up the mountain 3 or 4 times a week it’s amazing how 1 run down can feel as good as a days skiing! It’s the new normal.
February passes and the Covid numbers start to rise new variants arrive in France and we hit 30,000 cases a day …………no surprise there then as the French continue their holidays.
Thursday March 11, at 6 p.m. French Health Minister Olivier Véran delivered a new coronavirus epidemic report, addressing the deteriorating situation in the three hardest-hit regions: Hauts-de-France, Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur and Île-de-France, as well as the impact of variants on the health pressure, the evacuation of Covid patients and the accelerating vaccination campaign. Epidemic markers and hospital pressure keep on worsening and the minister said “we will take all necessary actions to save lives”.
Lockdown in Île-de-France? “We will take all necessary actions”, Véran warns. The coronavirus epidemic is escalating in Île-de-France. The entire region has been placed under strengthened surveillance and hospitals are adapting to the increase in admissions in intensive care units. Yet, no weekend lockdown has been decreed yet in Paris or even in Île-de-France, as confirmed this Thursday March 11, 2021 by Health Minister Olivier Véran. Yet, the latter warns the government “will take all necessary actions to save lives” in the event the epidemic indicators deteriorate even more in the coming days.
Coronavirus: “Variants have become standard in France”, Olivier Véran says
In France, the UK coronavirus variant keeps on spreading in France and even dominates the historic strain. It is now found in almost 60% of coronavirus cases in the country and dominates in 57 mainland departments. According to Health Minister Olivier Véran, “variants have become standard in France”.
Sunday 14 March 2021: 1 year on from the start of our pandemic affecting us in the Alps. Where has that year gone to?
The whole world has been facing the unprecedented coronavirus health crisis almost a year now. 119,304,751 coronavirus cases have been reported and over 2,628,782 people have died of Covid-19 worldwide.
Joe Biden announces adults can get vaccinated by May 1. In Latin America, sniffer dogs detect Covid-19. Israel slowly gets back to normal life with the reopening fo schools, bars, and restaurants. WHO confirms slight increase in new cases over the world. To face variants, Italy considers another lockdown. China launches a digital “health pass”. Pfizer is to supply four million extra doses to EU in March. Brazil reports a new death-record in 24h. Several European countries are to manufacture the Sputnik V vaccine. Denmark, Iceland and Norway halt the AstraZeneca vaccine as a precaution.
Robs had his 1st Pfizer vaccine and is awaiting his 2nd this week and I am waiting for mine and on this day Sunday March 14th 1 year on its snowing again winter has returned.
6 April, 2021