Day 2 of Our Captivity

Well, it’s not anything you don’t already know, but the U.K. is not acting as quickly or taking this public health crisis as seriously as the rest of the world. So while pretty much all of Europe has been closing its borders and schools, U.K. residents are being told to “keep calm and carry on handwashing.”

Time will soon tell, but this is likely a massive mistake. I don’t understand how or why the government is being so slow to take action on the coronavirus pandemic.

While other countries are closing their borders and requiring people to be “social distancing” and “self isolating,” what we’re hearing here is the phrase “herd immunity.” So schools are open (though with many new practices and procedures now in place, and many cancelled extracurricular activities and events) and not much is being done to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

We took matters into our own washed-while-rapping-the-first-two-verses-of-the-Fresh-Prince-theme-song (20 seconds!) hands and made the decision to keep our kids home from school this week. We just felt like it was the right thing to do. We are currently all well and not exhibiting any symptoms, but I did just fly to the States and back this past week (through Seattle airport, no less), so who knows how much exposure I had. And M’s office said work from home starting this past Friday.

So we’re hunkered down over here, in self isolation, until further notice. Things have been changing so fast, we figure something will have to change in the government’s response in the next 14 days, and we go from there.

Despite the government being in “Delay” phase, and people continuing to go to work and school, the panic buying I saw happening in America has also been in full force here. Our grocery delivery service had to take down its app, and the website now has a virtual queue just to get on it so you can attempt to place an order (for quite a ways out).

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More than two hours! Just to get onto the website to attempt to place an order for groceries!

 

Our toilet paper service is completely sold out. And don’t go and get any ideas about getting tissues or paper towels to have as backups if you run out of loo roll.

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The Europeans and their bidets, who’s laughing now?

The thing about a massive emergency is you tend to see both the best and the worst of humanity come out. There are the people who stockpiled toilet paper and antibacterial hand gel so they can sell it for a profit. But there are also the people who are offering to help others in any way they can. And fortunately, I think there are more of those. (Or maybe I’m just choosing to believe that.)

I’ve had lots of friends and neighbours offer to get us groceries while we’re on self-imposed lockdown, and the school/class parent WhatsApp groups have been passing around resources and ideas on how to stay sane while being stuck inside with your young children off school for weeks on end.

This is a strange and challenging time, unprecedented in our lifetimes. I don’t know what to expect, or what the right thing to do is, but I’m trying not to panic.

It’s a beautiful early-spring day outside today. I see people out and about. But nothing feels normal. I feel like a sci-fi character who’s just transported to an alternate reality, where everything looks the same as always, but actually everything is different, and I don’t know what to expect, and it’s scary.

There’s an eerie similarity in my mind to the day after the Baltimore riots in 2015. We spent the night glued to the news, watching the city burn after protests got way out of control; I was terrified, seeing the images of people looting and setting cars on fire, while I could hear the sirens from emergency vehicles going past our house. The next day my office was closed because of the riots, and it was the most beautiful spring day, and everything felt so strange. Should I be out enjoying the sunshine and perfect temperature on a bonus day off work? But that felt so… wrong?

How long will this last? Weeks, months, years? When will we next be able to go home to America? We have flights booked for April, but I’m 99% sure that trip won’t happen now. Will we literally end up stranded on this island?

Thank God and Roberto Garcia for FaceTime. Elbow bumps, peeps. Stay safe.

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