While we have done short trips across the border in the last 2 years, we have not done any long-haul travel at all. What this means is that we have not gone to Singapore to visit family and friends for 2 years! Sigh! We miss them all.
Why have we not gone to Singapore? The title of this post says it all. Because of the Covid-19 entry requirements. In 2020, there was so much uncertainty and quarantine requirements. In the first half of 2021, there was a 21-days quarantine requirement, even for vaccinated individuals.
Why are we going now? Well, they have reduced quarantine to 14 days. We don’t think they will reduce it further, at least not in the near future. The Son really wants to go to Singapore and if we don’t take this opportunity with the 3-weeks school break, then we will have to wait till next summer. So the Husband said maybe we should just go, even if we need to quarantine.
The last 2 weeks was a sort of rush to find out if we could get everything organised to go, deciding if we take the government allocated accommodations or look for our own, asking for permission for the Son to get 2 days off school to make the trip worthwhile, booking flights and accommodations, filling in forms, booking test slots etc… I have to give a shout out to that very informative Facebook group called Moving to Singapore – Quarantine Information, Advice and Experiences. They are such a helpful bunch with good advice.
So after all that, we are going! We opted to find accommodations which gave us a kitchenette and washing machine with a little living area, rather than hope that we will get allocated more than just a tiny hotel room for 14 days. This is just for the Son and I. The Husband has a project at work so he will fly out a week later, which means he has to quarantine by himself, so he will take the randomly allocated quarantine accommodations. We will compare experiences at the end of it.
Unfortunately, we won’t be able to meet our friends because Singapore has tighten measures for this period and only 2 persons can eat out together (provided they are vaccinated or have a negative test), only 2 unique persons are allowed to visit each home in a day. But this trip is really about seeing family; my parents have had some health issues and my father-in-law is getting on in years.
The husband and I have had our second Covid-19 vaccination jabs. So we now have 2 fully vaccinated persons in the house. After the first shot, the husband only suffer a little pain in his arm. I had more pain and felt more tired but it was ok. This second shot knocked me down with a high fever and lots of body aches and headaches, the day after having the jab. The husband who had his shot a few hours after me also suffered similar side effects. But we feel much better today so hopefully we are over the worst of it. In just a little over 2 weeks, the son would have his second shot and we would be a fully vaccinated household.
However, we still can’t afford to fly to Singapore to visit family because Singapore still requires quarantine in special facilities and multiple tests, even for vaccinated persons. To pay for all that for 3 persons is just too much for us.
It’s especially hard not just because of the length of time we have not seen family but more so because my dad has been in and out of hospital quite a number of times in the last few years and my mum has recently under gone cancer treatment. So we really feel the need to be with them!
There’s not much we can do about it. We just hope that soon quarantine requirements would be lifted and we can make it to visit family and friends.
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”.