Vital work continues in Covid-19 lockdown
Every month the British Ambassador to France, Ed Llewellyn, shares an insight into his role
The Covid-19 virus continues to have a huge impact in France, the UK, and around the world.
Supporting British citizens in France at this difficult time remains this Embassy’s top priority.
We are working almost entirely remotely. I am proud of the way the Embassy and our consulates have adapted. We are continuing to answer your questions, whether on consular or business issues.
We are working to protect our citizens, remaining in constant contact with the healthcare sectors and across the business community.
Many of us, like many of you, have been juggling childcare and home schooling alongside our routines – we have been getting the hang of home-schooling in my family, often coping with conference calls at the same time. Sometimes the two get mixed up! This is a challenging time for everyone, whether you are adapting to working from your homes, or in a job where that is not possible.
And, of course, for all of you who have had to make difficult choices about where to self-isolate, possibly separated from family and loved ones.
As you will have heard, President Macron has announced that the confinement measures will begin to ease from May 11. This will be a gradual process, and it will certainly not feel like an immediate return to normal.
What are we doing to help? Our Covid-19 team update our travel advice regularly and ensure ministers in London are getting the latest information about the situation in France.
We are fortunate that commercial travel options remain available at the moment, albeit much reduced, between France and the UK; it is important to stress that these are for essential travel only. The French and British governments have set out what constitutes an essential journey.
The French and UK governments have announced multi-billion pound packages to businesses affected. My colleagues in the Department for International Trade continue to support British businesses here in France. There is information on our LinkedIn page.
Internationally, the UK has raised its overseas aid for combating Covid-19 to a total of £744million. This will help organisations such as the UN, Unicef, the World Health Organisation and the Red Cross.
The UK is working to ensure a coordinated international response. Franco-British cooperation is at work in research efforts on respirators and vaccines.
One feature of this crisis is how – despite the fact we remain socially distanced – it is bringing communities closer in our deep appreciation of the role key workers, on both sides of the Channel, are playing in keeping daily life going and keeping us safe.
Our amazing health workers are putting their lives on the line every day, but also all those, in France and the UK, who are collecting the rubbish and stacking the supermarket shelves, as well as the military and the emergency services. A massive thank you to all for all they are doing.
Let me close by sending my very best wishes to you and your family. Please continue to follow NHS and French government guidance to
protect yourselves from Covid-19, for example by staying home unless absolutely necessary and washing your hands thoroughly and regularly.
PS: I am sure you will have heard of World War Two veteran Captain Tom Moore, 99, who has been walking the length of his garden to raise money for our NHS before his 100th birthday. He wanted to raise £1,000. As I write, he has just hit £28million!