Absent, masks, the end of the wind … How Covid-19 disrupts family parties

With the advent of Covid-19 cases, the French are forced to reinvent their daily lives. And in the face of the threat of it in confined spaces, family events such as weddings or birthdays can become a source of anxiety.

“So we kiss or not?” Unauthorized moment of embarrassment 2020, this introduction to all family events. Some people stick to the barrier gestures by settling for a humorous nod, others prefer to send the health protocol flying on the altar of reunion joy after months of alienation and anxiety during containment. . Covid-19 has changed the organization of baptisms, weddings and other birthdays.

Sarah Philippe knows something about it. Her mother’s wedding was originally scheduled to take place in mid-May. Containment requires, it is postponed until the end of November. And the organization is already encountering a puzzle.

Parties trying to adapt … or not

“We are working on a new version of marriage,” smiles the 25-year-old girl. “We are working on putting in the barrier gestures. She is thinking of making every other place for social distancing at the table. We are thinking about how we should organize the space. We want to change the meal from a buffet. To table service. It is an idea to have.”

“We review many things, even trivia. We had planned activities during the cocktail party so that people from different groups meet. We try to turn it into games that are compatible with the health situation by replacing it with a treasure hunt in the area. Rooms or challenges such as humorously insists on barrier gestures, says Sarah Philippe, who is used to leading these reflections as part of her job as event manager.

In churches that host the celebration, we also adapt. The mask is required, whether it is a wedding or a funeral. The chairmen of the aid are arranged in such a way that they respect social distance and a meter is often set. We have even seen some priests use the water pistol to baptize a child with respect for barrier gestures.

But for others, it does not seem so obvious to respect barrier gestures. “I was on a family’s double birthday last week. The party was held in a large garden. Admittedly we were less tactile in hugs than usual, but there was still little social distancing, and no masks,” says Mathieu [le prénom a été changé]. “Of course there were fewer glass changes than usual, but it struck me. No one brought up the subject. My sister, who lives in Belgium, had to decide not to make the trip, as a result of being imposed at fourteen when he returns. The Belgians seem to be very harder than us. “

Serial cancellation

Since England has decided to ban gatherings of more than six people as of Monday, should we be tougher with private events?

Some epidemiologists and politicians are open to it: “All family parties in closed places, they must be interrupted. […] If you have planned to make a big cousin with the whole family in the living room in September, you must not do that “, warned Martin Blachier, epidemiologist at Europe 1 in August last year, citing a “very significant cluster risk”.

Prime Minister Jean Castex also recommended “avoiding family parties as much as possible”.

Sarah Philippe gave up going to a friend’s wedding in early September due to suspected cases in her business. More fear than harm in the end, but caution remains to stop the resumption of the epidemic.

>> Also read: Covid-19 in France: who, when and where to test?

“There are many people who interrupt prevention. The elderly, but also others who are afraid of family reunification,” says Sarah Philippe. “And at the same time, we are in total uncertainty about the possibility of getting married next November. My mother is inevitably a little disappointed, it is far from the wedding she envisioned.”

Chantal Prouvost is also in the most complete uncertainty. To celebrate the birthday of his mother-in-law (95 years old), the family of about sixty people and scattered all over France would meet at Easter. Containment requires, the anniversary must be postponed.

“The landlord understood. We were able to cancel our booking and find a new date in November,” says this Breton. “But today, even the month of November, does not seem to be guaranteed anymore, because we do not know what can happen until then.”

“There will be less hugs, it will be less warm. We will not touch. I do not know if we will want to hide our smiles under masks. If the anniversary takes place, it will still be an atmosphere. Strange. This celebration makes us happy and regrets it, “she complains.

A place of pollution, but not the only one

Several consecutive clusters of family gatherings made headlines this summer. July 14 Near Lake Annecy (Haute-Savoie), thirty people who attended the same wedding tested positive for coronavirus. Same thing at the end of July after wedding in Hauts-de-Seine.

According to public health France, private or public events, where birthdays, weddings and other celebrations between relatives take place, make up 15% of the pollution clusters. It is only in companies that we find more contamination (29%).

“It’s not a matter of stopping all these social interactions,” but nuances but Matthieu Revest, infectious specialist at the University Hospital of Rennes, interviewed by Ouest-France. “They must continue, but in a different way.”

He recommends prioritizing outdoor parties, wearing a mask and making hydroalcohol gel available to guests, and making sure that alcohol, often present at these events, is not an excuse to loosen barrier gestures. .

“We have to find the right balance, because we will have to live with the virus for a long time and we can not prevent family reunions, which can have an even more harmful effect than the possible contaminants that can be linked to it,” he said. Covid-19 has not stopped playing spoilsport.