Swiss Life in Partial Lockdown…

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.

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“hamsterkaufe”

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.

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plexiglass protection

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.

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floor markings reminding you to keep your distance

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.

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Even an accompanying parent had to wear these masks provided at the doctors.

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.

IMG_20200407_134919It 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”.

Happy Easter!

syc

Looking for Winter…

It has been a non-winter this season (reason? in my opinion, it’s climate change – it can not be denied) so, during the winter-sport holidays, we went looking for some snow. And we did find some, but high up in the mountains. The road leading up is usually paved in snow but not this time (actually, it wasn’t last year either). Still we managed to enjoy a snow day out.

Here’s a few photos for you to enjoy:

All is not lost – winter has made an appearance in the last 2 days – late but at least it felt a little more like winter. But it was really just for all of 2 days, we are back to sort of spring type weather now.

What does this mean for spring and summer? i am not sure. i do hope we will have a decent summer because i am a sunshine person. Are you a sun-seeker or does the cold suit you better?

syc

Last Day of 2019…

Today is the very last day of 2019! The year has just flown by! i hope your 2019 has been good; filled with joy and laughter, successes and harmony, and even the not-so-good parts, i pray you will be able to look back upon them with wisdom and peace.

Here’s our reflection on our 2019:

Hihi

How are you? Hope this finds you well and enjoying this festive season with loved ones. Do remember to say a little Thank You to Jesus because He is the reason for the season.

Various changes in our own situations and at church have meant that 2019 has been about finding our way through some uncertainty. But by the grace of God, we have managed to get through the year, and things are looking well.

In January, Sandra increased her involvement in SCBWI (Society for Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators); managing their blog and being part of a conference planning team. Tobias and Sandra, together with Lexi continue to attend dog school. At the same time, we started looking for a dog sitter for when we would be away in summer.

February saw us in Laax for our annual ski trip. This time we brought Tobias’ friend with us and it was the first time we had a dog with us. Due to issues with her knee, Sandra did not ski but enjoyed lots of walks with Lexi. As Tobias is going into the next stage of school, called Gymnasium (junior college for people in Singapore), we also attended a couple of school meetings and Tobias had to make a decision on which core subjects he would like to take in the next school year. Walter also spent some time in Singapore with his family.

Lexi went into her first heat in March and it was a learning experience for us. But it was not as terrible as some had described to us. For Sandra, conference planning for SCBWI kicked into high gear. Sandra’s poly classmate, who was travelling with her mother, come to stay for a few days. It was such a nice time of catching up.

April was a difficult time as Lexi had an accident; her tail got clamped in the door which leads to the garden. We rushed her to the emergency vet. Repeated infections saw our poor little dog go through 3 operations, ending with a much-shortened tail.

The SCBWI Europolitian Conference took place the first weekend in May and Sandra was away, helping in that conference for 4 days. Walter and Tobias, together with an injured Lexi, managed quite well by themselves. We also celebrated Tobias’ 15th birthday. It was a quiet celebration; he chose to go watch a movie with a couple of good friends. Good news came at the end of May, when the vet gave the all clear for Lexi’s injury and she didn’t have to wear the cone anymore.

Inspired by the conference, Sandra took part in her very first writing contest in June. She didn’t win but it was a good experience. Lexi got to go back to dog school and spent a trial night at a pet hotel; it all went well.

Just before we left for our summer holidays in July, Tobias met his new violin teacher and he has been quite happy with his new teacher. His previous teacher would be retiring and said it was good to move to another teacher as he is also moving to the next stage of school. Our annual visit to Singapore was very eventful this year as we took Tobias’ best friend with us. It was interesting showing him around and watching him enjoy all the food. This year we only stayed 3 weeks because Lexi was at the pet hotel and we didn’t want to leave her for too long and could not really afford pet hotel for longer.

In August, Tobias was, finally after all these years, able to go to his other best friend’s birthday celebrations (usually we get back from Singapore much later and miss it). Walter started taking on a bigger role in the Pastoral Search Committee at church, as well as continuing as an elder and worship leader. Tobias started his first year in Gymnasium in the middle of August and likes it. He is in the bilingual track (German and English) with biology and chemistry as his core subjects. Tobias has continued with his squash lessons and of course, violin with the new teacher.

Sandra was able to catch up with her university housemate, whom she had not seen since leaving uni, in September. Her housemate was travelling with her parents and was only in Switzerland for one day, but they managed to meet up; it was lovely.

In the middle of September, Sandra’s father was warded into hospital (he had been in hospital a couple of times earlier in the year but only for short periods) and has been there since there had been a couple of complications. But now it seems that things are stable and there’s a positive outlook. We would like to thank all our family and friends for their wonderful prayers and support through this difficult time.

October saw us spending a quiet time here during the school holidays. Sandra started making blackout curtains for the church and became part of the constitution rewrite committee. Throughout the year, Walter has been travelling for work (not as much as last year, thank God) but this is the time when it gets hectic for him.

As always, November is a busy time. This year made busier by the sewing of curtains, many meetings for the constitution and search committees as well as fundraising activities by the Sunday School for our missionaries in India. Sandra has continued as missions coordinator and as a Sunday School teacher so she does her best to combine the two whenever possible.

And finally, we are here, in December, getting ready for Christmas and the end of another jam-packed year. We are grateful for all that we have experienced, the good and the bad, and we pray that we have learned from these experiences and become better for it.

A Christmas Prayer for you and your loved ones:

We pray your spirit is light with hope, your heart is filled with joy and your days are blessed with the glory of God. May His Love bring you peace at Christmas time and always.

Do stay in touch and let us know what’s been happening for you.

With love,

Walter, Sandra, Tobias and Lexi.

We wish you all a most blessed and fulfilling 2020! Let’s make it a year filled with love and kindness, with many moments of shared happiness.

syc