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Just Bill

Friends invited us to visit them in the south of France, along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. As far as Covid goes, this is an area like the UP: not many locals had it. It is also full of second homes and vacation hotels that are now attracting people from places where Covid was active.

In daily life in the towns, you see only a few masks on the sidewalks. However, in the stores, most people mask up. Some stores say a mask is obligatory. My gas station is like that, and in all but one rest stop along the freeways, everyone wore a mask.

It is heart-breaking to see Michigan a dark red on the news maps, meaning there has been a spike in outbreaks. Michigan tried to do the right thing with confinement early, and it seemed to have worked. But it seems the citizens of Michigan have forgotten what all of that effort was for.

France is not without a level of forgetfulness. The all-night music festival on June 21 attracted crowds of unmasked young people who did not observe social distancing, They were as close to each other as if it was 2019. You can expect a spike of French cases over 14 days.

Masks are most effective on a person who has coronavirus, because it keeps those nasty droplets from flying widely. Your own face mask may block some droplets from others. If everyone is masked, chances of transmission are very low.

Today we took a boat to Porquerolles, an island. Masks were obligatory, and 387 people on the boat were masked. In France, most people were and are serious about a rule that makes sense.

Porquerolles was once owned by a rich man. His heirs still own 30% of the island, and 60% is a national park. No new construction is allowed. The handful of cars, almost all electric, are official ones. Six or eight businesses rent bikes, and there are three ice cream shops. Those passenger boats run every hour now, and every half hour in July and August. About 250 people live there in winter, and my friend Jeanne has a vacation home her grandparents made.

There are two beaches at Porquerolles, and the one we used was clear water over fine white sand. The warm salty ocean water is a pleasure. You float easily. A California friend with us thought it was cold, but it was warmer than the water at Scott’s Point.

Smoking at the beach is only allowed if your feet are in the water. Smoking is not allowed on the streets and roads. It probably won’t rain again for two months, and the local government doesn’t want a fire like those that burn California sometimes.

Is it the role of government to ban smoking where it is dangerous ? Is it the role of government to ban going out in public without a mask when it is dangerous ?

It was a beautiful sunny day, 79 degrees and no wind. I felt lucky to be on vacation in the south of France.