Thursday, 10 September 2020

Day thirty eight of the quarantine: an experience

By Paul Lysek | Prague Daily Monitor |
23 April 2020

Today we continued our slow reopening to the world. I had to head out and meet a colleague so I took full advantage and stopped for some fresh groceries and to look for a bicycle for one of the boys.

The truth is that living in an apartment, with your family, and being used to a certain amount of freedom and travel, makes the sudden transition to “lock-down” very difficult. In short, people are going nuts and this will end the lock-down before anyone gives the official green light.

I left my apartment in the morning and found it very normal to cover my face, ensure I have disinfectant, use a cloth to open doors etc. A few weeks ago I would have thought it preposterous but already I had become accustomed to the new ways of the world. Probably not all and everything, but with everyone very aware and helpful, one learns quickly.

My first object of business was meeting my colleague. We met in an area which serves as a closed-in zone for a restaurant. It is half public so we could stay relatively unmolested. No handshakes, just an elbow bump, some extra distance between us and we exchanged our business. We went without the usual coffee, or sharing of gum. Subconsciously I am sure both of us were extra careful to “say it, not spray it.” There were a couple of occasions when I needed to show a computer screen to my colleague, no hesitation, we moved in a little closer. I think these instances are still unclear; just how contagious the virus is and what increases risk. Sure isolation works, but it is not practical. So is it two meters between one another? Is it ten or thirty minutes for increased risk in a room with someone, and at what distance? What are the risks of airborne transfer? This is exactly what I hope some bright minds are working on.
Basically we can then adjust our behavior and significantly lower the risks of any passing on of the virus.

After the meeting I headed to a grocery store. The store had adjusted and was in control of announcing expectations. There was sterilizing lotion at the entrance but the plastic gloves were all gone, and nobody was sterilizing the baskets, but things will improve. I walked around and patrons are all keeping distance, not breathing on one another and paying electronically. It amazes me that the open bins of baked products are still out in the open air. I thought that would be the first victim of the epidemic. I do understand the cultural aspect of selling bread in open air. In France the French buy baguettes, pin them on to the back carrier of their bicycle, and cycle home with the bread in open air, on an open bike frame – no bag needed. I think this is okay for the closed stores that pass the customer the product he wants, but to have bins full of baked goods everyone is walking by, and in the winter coughing all over, it takes a strong stomach. Good news for the supporters: still there!

The plastic separators at the check-out isles were a quick addition that is well deserved. I wondered how the drunks would be buying their cigarettes without being able to wave their arms across the whole of the cashier’s personal space? In general it looks like the beginnings of some real changes.

Lastly the bike store. I should have stopped in before the shop but it was too late. I came in and was approached by a sales clerk asking what I wanted. In general we kept our distance, kept our masks on and there were no problems. Home I went.

When I came home my boys were already used to us washing everything. They know not to touch anything until it has been washed and dried. It is a little extra precaution but until we know more, an easy one to take. We make sure the “outside” clothes is isolated and I wash my hands very well, in burning hot water. The routine has served us well.

During the trip around town things did seem to be livening up. More people, more things going on. The government has plans it keeps adjusting but as the nice weather continues, people feel fully powered up and ready to work, the move to open everything will be unstoppable. The time has been bought to get a grip on the health-side of things, and governments around the world will be exchanging information and “best practices.” It is a shame that there is so much focus on governments worldwide discrediting each other. The fight should be less public, but all governments use the tactic to promote their solutions. I personally doubt the Russians or Chinese cover-up or mislead the world any more than our perfect Western governments. Perhaps on the virus they could actually maximize efficiency and use it as a cross-border research opportunity?

Let’s keep our fingers crossed that we have halted this thing and life will slowly start returning to a sort of normal!

Paul Lysek – The idea of writing a daily update came to me by seeing, hearing and trying to understand all the things that are happening around us at this time. This story is a combination of all those sources, including friends, relatives, and experiences with attempts to bring out the satire, emotion and changing environment of the situation. It is entirely fictional, with the exception of my sarcasm.