The town of Pau (Béarn), in the French Pyrenees, went into lockdown on March 17th, along with the rest of France. As of April 02, there are 114 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and nine registered deaths in Pau. All schools and most businesses are closed. Residents have been asked to stay indoors, and if they do go out, to maintain a strict social distance and not to venture further than a 1 km radius from their home. We are told repeatedly by our leaders that distance and isolation are essential to beating this virus, but this doesn’t mean the same thing for all people. My impulse is to explore how these measures affect the most vulnerable in our community, those who were already marginalized before the Coronavirus pandemic. Two collectives that stand out in particular are Asylum-seekers and the homeless. How these two communities are living the restrictions brought on by the pandemic in Pau is a reflection of what’s happening all over France.
I’m not on assignment so I’ve been working without Press credentials. I’ve been strict about following the confinement rules imposed by the government which restrict movement to a 1km radius. For me this means 1km from my mother’s block of flats. What started as a government rule has become a thread for my story.
I’m approaching this story like a “diary” – my observations of how the most vulnerable in Pau are living out the Covid-19 pandemic. Mostly visual but I’m also keeping track of details and observations in writing. The diary format seems to best fit the uncertainty of when the alarm will end and how. It also allows me flexibility to explore which is crucial right now. Everyday that I go out, within my 1 mile radius, to stretch my legs and to buy groceries for my mother and daughter, I connect with new people who are willing to share their stories with me.