The pandemic is forcing a new rule in France that might have a lot of Americans doing a double-take: It will now be legal to eat at your desk during work. Yes, prior to the Labor Ministry decision, it had been against the law to do so, reports the Local. But with the advent of COVID, the government wants to make it easier for workers who report to offices to remain safe during the lunch hour. As the New York Times explains, the original rule had been put on the books years ago to make sure bosses couldn't force their employees to work through lunch. But as both stories point out, the rule also spoke to the culture of France. “We French and you Americans have totally different ideas about work,” retired translator Agnes Dutin tells the Times.
“It’s a catastrophe to eat at your desk," she adds. "You need a pause to refresh the mind. It’s good to move your body. When you return, you see things differently.” However, the Local notes that attitudes about that had been changing even before the pandemic, and it notes that some workers interviewed in French media were surprised to learn that the original rule even existed. The new law is only the latest COVID-related change to affect the French way of living. After-dinner drinks and visits to cafes, restaurants, and museums have pretty much gone away, and the Times notes that the phrase "le click & collect"—referring to food takeout orders—has now been widely adopted. (In India, COVID cases are inexplicably dropping.)