Day 278, part 2 – Mentality

OK. Quick post here to clear my mind. (Or as quick as I can with the internet crawling under the weight of several (or more) holidaymakers.)

Last night, the President spoke once again and raised the lockdown back up to Level 3. I’m not saying that locking down is a good thing or necessarily even the right thing to do, but it is clear that he had to do something. To be fair, it was actually a speech in which he told the nation off like we were a group of naughty children. And while that might irritate a great number of people (and it did, with many of them fitting the stereotype), the fact is that too many people are behaving like naughty children. We were given the chance to take measures to help prevent the spread of coronavirus and we (overall, as a collective), ignored it and continued with our daily (and nightly) lives unabated.

If it was difficult stuff, like you had to cut off the fingers of your first born or pour washing up liquid into your eyes to help slow the spread, then you might understand people not complying. But it’s putting a piece of cloth over a bit of your face and it’s staying away from people.

And we couldn’t even manage that. It’s actually rather embarrassing.

For that reason, amongst other things, our local beach (150m down there [points]) is now closed.
We can look, but we can’t touch. This makes me very sad (and quite annoyed), but it’s been coming for a while.

And yet already, the local Whatsapp group is buzzing with ideas to circumvent the regulations. If you have a fishing permit, you can access the beach (as long as you are also fishing). And that’s a great example of exactly the mentality that’s got us to where we are right now. Local residents who have lived here for years and years are now off to the local post office to get their ticket to the beach. Instead of noting that there’s clearly an issue which needs to be resolved, and staying away from public areas for a couple of weeks, people are actively looking for ways to go and sit next to each other on the shoreline.

Sure. You’ll ask me why anyone would trust this government. They are far from perfect.
But are people that blinkered that they can’t see past their need to break the rules or snub the government and see the huge viral pandemic which is literally killing hundreds of ordinary folk just like them, every day right now?

Here’s another example from Facebook – from before last night’s speech. I’ve removed the guy’s name. I’m not sure if he knew he was quoting a local right-wing, anti-mask covid-denier, but whatever.

First off, there has to be a dividing line for any rule or regulation.

“On the right is 17 years and 364 days old. On the left, 18 years old.
Such clever alcohol this, our government thinks it knows the difference.”

said no-one ever, despite it being a completely arbitrary boundary that we have lived with all our lives.

But aside from that…

I’m not saying that there is any danger or risk in how those people are gathered on the lagoon on the left. But instead of choosing to understand that there was a reason that they weren’t allowed to gather on the beach on the right, they simply chose to just gather somewhere else close by.
In this case, it’s not the virus being “clever”, it’s the people being obtuse.
And if you can’t see that, then I don’t think you are being very “clever”, either.

Precisely because of this mentality, we literally have to be spoon-fed each and every rule. So now – and perhaps even because of this well-circulated image – the regulations have been extended to include rivers, dams and lakes. And then people will complain that the rules are too complicated or pernickety. But it’s really not that hard.

Ramaphosa’s speech last night included these lines:

We can only weather this storm if we immediately and fundamentally change our mindsets.
Compliance with the health regulations should not be simply about fearing the wrath of the law.
It should not be about reluctant observance or peer pressure.
This is about common sense.
It is about taking responsibility for our own health and the health of others.

But common sense and taking responsibility are not things that happen in this country, where a red traffic light is taken as merely a suggestion and the law is completely disregarded when it doesn’t suit us to follow it. It was already happening in Cape Town this morning.

There will be no change in mindset, despite the personal and/or collective consequences.

And because of that, there will be thousands more completely unnecessary deaths.

Day 116 – A very poor example by Jesus

This is very disappointing from Jesus and his Disciples. Offered up to us throughout our childhoods as a shining example of how to lead our lives, I’ve just been sent this image of Him and His friends out and about last night, and quite frankly, I’m shocked.

Let me just say that I’m not impressed with the idea of celebrities not being able to lead their private lives privately, either. I wouldn’t usually use a paparazzi shot like this on the blog.

But this has got me mad.

Zero social distancing. And not a mask in sight.

Appalling.

I’ll bet that they didn’t even sign in with their contact details for Track and Trace in case someone ends up with the bad Covid. Which they will, because, I mean, just look at the state of this.

And while the restaurant owner needs to step up and take some responsibility – why not space them out over both sides of the table for starters (and the other courses)?? – this really comes down squarely on the shoulders of the guys at the table. I’m willing to bet that alcohol was involved here: they’ve clearly all been on the water and have forgotten about the rules and regulations put in place to protect us all.

And are those J√§gerbombs on the table? That’s illegal.

Look, it’s all very well dying for the sins of mankind, but when stuff about your private life like this comes out, it really devalues the whole message. Very poor.

Get it together, for Christ’s sake.

 

Day 109 – All change (again)

Another address from the President at short notice yesterday evening and it’s all change again for the rules and regulations of Level 3 Lockdown. Or Level 3 Enhanced or Advanced or Plus or Plus Plus (which makes everything better). I’m a bit lost as to exactly where we are now.

I think we’re all a bit lost as to exactly where we are now.

What changed last night, then?

Masks became mandatory in public places. There are now a lot more rules and detail about that, replacing the previous:

A person must when in a public place, wear a cloth face mask or a homemade item that covers the nose and mouth, or another appropriate item to cover the nose and mouth.

Which did kind of suggest that masks were mandatory when in public places.
Good. There’s plenty of evidence that this will slow the spread of the virus – especially in indoor space (which aren’t good places to be anyway right now, remember?)

The sale of alcohol got banned again. Annoying, disruptive, damaging to the local economy, but sadly understandable, given the current pressure on our healthcare systems. And yes, it does feel like the whole class is being punished because a couple of kids wouldn’t stop talking, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. Trying to put those two children on the naughty step has not worked, so we all have to suffer. Once again, the black market will open up, shebeens won’t be adequately policed and the law will instead choose to crack down on someone with a six-pack of Savannah in his car boot. It’s all part of the dysfunctional society in which we live.

A new curfew 2100-0400. It seems like that those two kids who ignored the teacher and kept chatting also do it mainly at night. Alcohol and late nights are apparently the thing and time that there is most pressure on hospitals – at least from a unnecessary admissions point of view. So – no more booze and no more late nights. Not that the rest of the class were out and about much anyway.

Taxis can now have 100% occupancy for short distance trips. As long as their passengers wear masks (as above) and as long as the taxis have their windows open.

Eish… Taxis… taxis… taxis… The transport lifeline of low income South Africans.
The bane of every other road users’ life.
Let me take you through the folly of these regulations in no particular order.

100% occupancy. This in the same week that it was revealed that having middle seats empty on planes halved the risk of catching coronavirus. 100% occupancy in taxis will only increase the chance of passengers catching Covid-19 on their taxi journey. However: honestly, given the infamous disregard for the law amongst SA taxi drivers, it’s unlikely that they were sticking to the previous 70% rule anyway.
Opening windows. I can be pretty sure that the windows on taxis will not be opened during journeys in winter. It’s either freezing cold, soaking wet or (and yes, actually at the moment) both. Opening the windows may seem like a silly thing, but ventilation is key in preventing the spread of respiratory illness. It’s one simple way of reducing the spread of TB. However: honestly, given the lack of anyone opening taxi windows to “Stop TB” and yes, given the infamous disregard for the law amongst SA taxi drivers, it’s unlikely that any windows will be opened.
Wearing masks. This one is down to the passengers, because they sit behind the driver and once they are on board, s/he can’t see them. Given the adherence to the mask rules so far, and adding that there is no apparent punishment for the passenger – only for the driver, I can’t see this one working out either.

So, while fully understanding the importance of the minibus taxi industry for many South Africans, taxi use will merely lead to more infections and provide an excellent vector for the virus to spread further, both due to the very nature of the rules, and the fact that any mitigating regulations are likely to be ignored.

We can still go to church, to cinemas and the theatre, but only if there are fewer than 50 of us there. We can pop in to the casino or restaurant, as long as they make sure it’s not more than 50% full. But we can’t go and see our families in their homes. I don’t agree with half of this. Probably not the half you think though.
Let me explain it from a couple of places.

I have mentioned before that just because something is permitted, it doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea. And being inside with other people is not a good idea at the moment.

It’s almost as if that first line of the lockdown regulations:

You must remain at home at all times…

was put there for a good reason.

I would strongly advise against going to cinemas, theatres, casinos and restaurants right now. But at least if you do (and assuming that they are following regulations, which many/most seem to be), you will be screened on entry and have your details recorded, so 1. things are controlled and infection risk is reduced, and 2. if there is a problem, they can get back in touch with you and tell you that you may have been exposed.
I wouldn’t be visiting family and friends (especially older family and friends) even if it were allowed right now. Really, infecting relatives because the little asymptomatic transmission fairy was hitching a ride on your shoulder is not a good look.
Let’s be honest, many people have been going round to see their families and visit friends, been meeting in groups to exercise, and generally ignoring regulations since lockdown began. And who of them is going to then obey the rules about not going out if you are feeling under the weather?
And there are no screening precautions in place at Ouma and Oupa’s place.

There are far too many stories about people getting sick because they have done silly things.

So don’t go out if you can possibly avoid it: and you really can avoid cinemas, theatres, casinos, restaurants and Aunt Mary’s. You can.

So in conclusion, once again, if you take a step back and look through neutral-coloured spectacles, the government is trying to balance the dangers of the virus and the dangers of a collapsing economy. And they are trying to follow best practice as far as limiting potential exposure and protecting people – in words at least.
Are they doing it very well? Not really.

They’re in a no win situation. And they’re not winning.

Will people continue to break the rules as and when they see fit? Damn straight.
Will any of this be adequately, fairly and correctly policed? Nope.
Will we see the black market rise again for booze and continue for cigarettes? Of course.

This is not a pretty picture. But then global pandemics rarely seem to paint those.