You have to keep your wits about you

 Anti-covid regulations change and we have to change our plans with them. So we are in a phased deconfinement at present. This means that shops are open again, with longer opening hours permitted, up till 9pm. Also Sunday trading is permitted. This doesn't affect us in Bordeaux much because Bordeaux is a tourist city, so Sunday trading is allowed anyway between certain hours.

Cafés and restaurants are not allowed to open, but they can do takeaways and delivery. People are showing huge ingenuity in finding ways to encourage people to buy takeaways. One of our favourite places was doing picnic baskets to take to the nearby park. Others are selling takeaway drinks in a huge variety of containers. 

Churches have stayed open for private prayer, but now services can be held with a maximum of 30 people, not including those officiating. Since we have a disproportionate number of people on duty, doing video-projection, accompaniment, stewarding, etc, this means we can meet with no difficulty. The cathedral, however, is severely limited : putting 30 people in that massive edifice is like serving one green pea in a soup tureen. Meanwhile the catholics of the Pius X group (LeFevre's tridentine traditionalists) held an open-air mass in the Jardin Public attended by 300 people, and are facing legal pursuits in consequence. The parish of Cauderan held ten masses in different chapels and churches, presided over by different priests in order to get the folk through.

The Conseil d'Etat has given the government three days to change this limit of 30 people into something a little more sensible, given that places of worship vary so much in size. So tomorrow at the latest we'll see what will change. I hope there will not be a massive requirement for space per person - at 4m2 per person we can function. Increase this to 6 and it's in doubt. Make it 8 and all doubt is removed, we're online once more.

Meanwhile being back at the church building has positives and negatives. It is good to leave the flat, even though once gets very used to staying indoors in warmth and safety. It is good to see each other, to great each other from afar, to share our news and admire our haircuts. Preaching through a mask is tiring and I never realised before how much facial expressions contribute to it all.

As for Christmas, well who knows what will happen. We are due for a further jettisonning of restraint on 15 December, and just a week later we're supposed to fly to England to spend Christmas with Gwilym and Beth in Norwich. However will the flights be maintained? Will we have to quarantine on arrival or on our return? For us we can live what that, but Catrin can't really quarantine because she's a teacher, so a need to quarantine means she can't go.


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