This has been such a crazy time. At the end of December 2019, the first cases of COVID-19 (a new Coronavirus) appeared in Wuhan, China. On January 13th 2020, we heard of the first recorded case outside of China, in Thailand. At first, it didn’t seem too concerning. A common opinion was that it was no more dangerous than the regular flu.
Until March 11th 2020. On that day, the WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Spring Break for us began on Saturday March 14th. Our family had planned a 3-day getaway up island for March 24th-26th. We decided to cancel, as we just weren’t sure what the future might hold. On March 19th B.C. declared a general state of emergency.
Most of us have never lived through something like this before. It’s scary, emotional, isolating, and unpredictable. We are being asked to practice social distancing, staying a minimum of 2 meters away from others. We are only interacting with those in our immediate family; those that we live with.
We have been very fortunate in B.C. to have flattened the curve, but many around the world are sick, or know someone who is fighting the virus. Many families have lost loved ones and are grieving during this time. Front line health care workers around the world find themselves in unthinkable, devastating situations.
The skies are quiet, as most flights have been cancelled, and airports deserted. Ferries are running reduced sailings, and all non-essential travel is discouraged. The roads are empty.
Schools have been closed, and teachers asked to recreate their lessons for an online environment, and quickly learn how to use new technologies. Parents have been thrust into the role of teacher, helping their children with assignments and navigating this new digital classroom (and trying to keep track of all of the websites and passwords for these new platforms!). Some parents are juggling working from home, with caring for (and teaching!) their children. Children are missing their teachers, their friends, their routines, and in some cases, their graduation.
Stores, salons, shopping malls, amusement parks, and recreation centers have all closed. Children’s sports, as well as professional sports, have been shut down. Disneyland has closed its gates – for only the third time since its opening in 1955. Victoria Day parades, Canada Day celebrations, summer concerts, and markets have already been cancelled. Weddings and other celebrations have to be postponed, or completely re-imagined to fit into the new rules of social distancing.
Millions of people have lost their jobs or had their hours drastically reduced. People are worried about paying rent and mortgages, and what the future will hold. People are trying to wrap their heads around the financial support options offered by the government, decipher the eligibility requirements, and gather all of the necessary paperwork. Although many have found that they are saving money on things like dining out, shopping, and gas … we seem to be spending a huge amount more on food, and our income is reduced and not guaranteed.
Restaurants are closed for in-restaurant dining, and take out options have increased exponentially. Stores such as the local toy store and kids clothing store have started offering phone orders and curbside pickup. Some stores are offering individual shopping experiences where social distancing is maintained.
Grocery shopping has changed dramatically, as we all try to minimize our exposure and visit the grocery store as infrequently as possible. Many stores have increased their online shopping options, and reserved early morning shopping for the most at risk members of the community. A maximum number of people are allowed in the grocery store at a time, and there are lines on the floor to ensure that customers stand 2 meters apart when lining up. Signs direct customers to move up and down the aisles in one direction so as to avoid interaction with other customers. Plexiglass separates employees and customers at the checkout. Many items have been unavailable at various times over the past months, such as toilet paper, yeast, and hand sanitizer. Upon returning home from the grocery store, many of us strip off our clothing just inside the front door, throw our clothes in the wash, and sanitize every item that we purchased. We then sanitize the counter, floor, and finally the container of sanitizing wipes!
Many people are wearing gloves when they leave the house for groceries and other necessities. Some are wearing masks. The advice on these two precautions seems to vary, and change from day to day. My Facebook news feed is full of people demonstrating how to make simple DIY masks: from a pant leg, a bandana, and so on.
The sounds of saws, hammers and lawn mowers can be heard around the neighborhood. Many have been laid off, and are filling their days with the many home improvement projects that we never seem to have time for in our daily lives. If one positive comes out of all of this, there will be some beautiful looking gardens and yards around the community!
Parents of young children are exhausting all of the activities they have at their disposal to keep their children entertained at home. We are pulling out toys that haven’t been touched in months, and scouring Pinterest for new craft and activity ideas. We are baking more, playing games with our children, and likely watching more TV than we are used to! While our friends without kids are posting about all of the work they are doing around the house, their DIY projects, their mission to master a new talent or language … we are just trying to keep our little ones happy, entertained, and as worry free as possible.
Many of us are trying to see the silver lining of this time; an opportunity to slow down and enjoy time with our spouses and children. At the same time, we all find ourselves missing our family and friends: our dinners, and get-togethers. We try to recreate these experiences through online video platforms such as Zoom or Face Time, but it’s just not the same. Grandchildren are missing their grandparents: longing to spend time with them, to hug them, and sit in their lap. Parents are missing the support and love that grandparents provide to our families.
One day we will look back on this time, and it will seem like a short period of our lives. But right now, as we live it, it’s difficult to see the end. “Social distancing” may be part of our vocabulary and our lives for the foreseeable future, but we will be reunited with our loved ones. And the hugs will be amazing!