Today is Day 26 of partial lockdown in Switzerland. On 16th March 2020, the Swiss government decided that just asking people to social distance was not enough to stop the spread of Covid-19 so we went into partial lockdown. This flu pandemic which started at the end of December in Wuhan, China has, at lightning speed, spread across the globe and now most countries are in some form of lockdown.
But lockdown looks and functions differently in each country so what does it look like here in Switzerland?
Well, when i compare lockdown here and the stories of lockdown i hear from other countries, it would seem that here in Switzerland we have a rather relaxed lockdown, which is why i call it a partial lockdown.
Here all shops and businesses, other than supermarkets, doctors, pharmacies, post offices, and other essential services are closed, even restaurants. Anyone who can work from home should do so. Students have home-school. Quite similar to the lockdown in Singapore (or circuit breaker mode, as it is called over there) which started only a few days ago. But unlike in Singapore, i still see construction work going on; a house on the neighbouring street is getting re-roofed and another near the edge of the forest is being built. i also see gardeners doing their jobs. But maybe they are allowed to carry on because they can social distance while at work? i am not sure.
People still do their shopping as usual, maybe with more hand sanitising and less often but it seems to be all normal. There was a tiny bit of panic-buying, or “hamsterkaufe” as it is called here, at the beginning, but only for that short time. Yes, of course, now and again over the last weeks i have seen a few things go out of stock but the stocks are usually there again when i go the next time.
Overall, people here seem very calm about it all. They do try to keep to the rules as much as possible but i have seen a few instances of people gathering together and you know they don’t stay in same house because it’s 5 adults and 7 kids in the forest, having a BBQ. The Swiss government has banned gatherings of more than 5. But i guess there will always be a few rule-breakers.
There is only a small amount of fearful talk. People seem to be either quite stoic about it all or the seriousness of the situation has not hit home. i am not sure which is which, maybe it’s a mixture of both. But numbers here are quite scary, as of today, 24,051 cases and 948 deaths; for a population of just 8 million, that’s a high ratio.
The places which are open are doing their best to enable social distancing and to protect themselves and their customers. There is a limit on the number of people in a single shop (depending on their floor area), they all have plexiglass dividers at the payment counters, markings on the floor to allow for social distancing, and they advise all to pay by card so it’s more hygienic.
Going to the post office is like a little dance. The post staff stands away from the counter, behind the plexiglass, i step forwards, stating what service i require and leave all the appropriate documents on the counter. i step back and the post staff steps forwards and does whatever is required. He/she then steps back and i step forwards to key something into the keypad. And so we go back and forth till the whole transaction is complete. It’s quite funny.
What about wearing masks? Very few wear masks in public here. i have only seen a couple at the supermarkets. However, quite a few do wear gloves. The counter staff at the supermarkets near us, all have gloves on but no masks. The ladies at the pharmacy have both masks and gloves on, same at the doctor’s clinic. They even have patients wear single-layer masks while waiting to see the doctor.
i know because my son fell ill just a few days before the start of the lockdown. He had high fever and cough so we rang the doctor and were told come collect medication but to keep him at home, isolated and ride it out. Even when we did finally see the doctor on the 6th day of him being ill, he was not tested for Covid-19 because he was not in the at-risk category. We did the responsible thing and isolated ourselves as much as possible, although the doctor said my son was the one who had to isolate. We don’t think he had Covid-19 but it would have been good to know either way. He is now all recovered, after 2 weeks, and was able to catch up on his schoolwork.
How are the kids managing for schoolwork? i think most kids here do ok. It’s the parents of primary school children who probably have the most to do with homeschooling. i have a teenager in pre-uni so he gets his assignments from his teachers and he does them, with a reminder here and there. The primary kids have crafts and worksheets to do and most of the time the parents have to watch them, making sure it’s done right. i heard from a friend in Hong Kong, whose kids have not been in school since the end of January and will likely not go back to school till after the summer, they are expected to log onto the online platform and be “at school” for the normal school hours. Wow! That’s expecting a lot. My heart goes out to her; she has 3 boys!
How is working from home? Well, i already work from home before so it’s kinda the same for me. BUT it has changed for me in other ways for me. Because before i would have the whole apartment to myself and can blast whatever music i want to motivate myself to work, now i can’t because there are 2 other persons trying to work also and i need to be respectful and not disturb them. It took some getting used to. We are getting there and finding a rhythm around each other.
It was announced the day before that these current measures, which were supposed to end on 19 April, will be extended for another week till 26 April. But even then, it will not be a complete return to business as usual. The government will advise us of their plans for a slow, gradual relaxing of restrictions on 16 April. So we will see what happens then.
In the meantime, stay safe and healthy, keep washing those hands and stay at home.
Oh, i want to leave you with this heartwarming story about how teenagers are volunteering to help the elderly shop as they don’t have to attend school for now. And this cute picture which i took on one of our dog walks; it says “Happy Easter AT HOME 2020”.