And that was that. A last minute announcement of a Presidential address to the nation, which was then (as is tradition) late in starting. And the news that the State of Disaster, whose regulations had been with us for 750 days, and which provided the framework upon which the lockdown and everything else Covid-related was attached, was summarily ended at midnight last night.
With it go many of the rules and regulations which have governed our lives for the past two years, although there is some confusion as to where we stand with mask wearing and 50% capacity in venues, given that it seems that there is no longer any legislation under which to enforce that, but we’re still supposed to do it. That legislation will be forthcoming later this month, but in the meantime, there are a big grey area.
Gone too then is the 6000 miles…The Lockdown Diaries category: 767 posts of thoughts, opinions, news and – now – memories of the lockdown. Including one where our neighbour told the local WhatsApp group that she had microwaved her newspaper, and another where I hit 91.9kph running in the back garden.
Oh, and the reminder that in April 2020, I went to the supermarket (once):
To be honest, we haven’t really been locked down for a long while now, and last night’s change won’t really make much difference to anyone’s lives here.
But, let the record show that South Africa’s State of Disaster is officially over. And before I hit PUBLISH, let me click that The Lockdown Diaries button one last time. It’s been wild.
It’s 26th March 2022, which means that it’s exactly two years since South Africa locked down as the Covid pandemic hit our shores.
Kwik maffs: 365 x 2 = 730, see?
Did it work? In limiting the spread of the virus, almost certainly, yes. And in terms of the economy and social effects? Well, there’s clear evidence that lockdowns all over the world had a terrible effect in those regards. And it would be easy to simply say that it wasn’t worth locking down just because of that.
But if you want to do science and maths stuff (more complicated than the effort above), you need to measure like against like, and you need to have controls and all that. We can’t compare the effects of economic hardships with the number of infections prevented or the number of lives saved. And even if we could, who would decide the balancing point where one won out over the other? You could make those data say exactly what you wanted them to.
Not that you would have any data anyway. Because beyond the issue above, there’s the one of controls. How many infections has our lockdown prevented? We’ll never really know, because there wasn’t another cohort that didn’t lock down. And sure, the economy has tanked, but let’s be honest: those same individuals who hate the government because they instituted a lockdown, also hated them before that lockdown because they were tanking the economy.
So good research is hard to do, but that’s not to say we shouldn’t try. When the next pandemic hits, it would be good to have a working policy on the best way to navigate things ready to go. I’m not sure if we can formulate anything like that from where we stand now, though.
So maybe it’s enough to say that pandemics are just crap for the economy and absolutely awful in terms of their human cost; that prevention is better than cure. Agreeing on those might not help us out much of there is a next time, but it’s probably the only consensus we’re going to get.
There will come a time when I end this section on the blog called “The Lockdown Diaries“. And that might be soon. The fact is that we’re not really in much of a lockdown anymore, but the “State of Disaster Diaries” seemed a bit wordy when I started. But there is much talk about the SoD being dropped real soon now, probably because it’s not actually doing very much at the moment. The kids are back at school every day, there’s no curfew, nightclubs are clubbing at night, we can buy beer and wine, and so it seems that there’s no real need for any further regulations regulating… virtually nothing.
At the first hint of this possibility, all the anti-lockdown crews suddenly renewed their vociferous calls for a return to normality (whatever that means), so that when the inevitable change comes, they can claim that they were the ones who instigated it. It’s a bit like that time when I called for the sun to rise in the morning, and wow: guess what happened the very next day?!? All because I suggested it.
Some people might like to pretend that they influenced a government policy; I told God what to do.
Not much to add here, because it is what the title says: the 500th day of our lockdown in some form or other. It’s not been pretty, but research does show that it has been somewhat effective. But there have been huge downsides, especially economically and socially.
And where do we find ourselves on Day 500? Probably in a worse situation that just about any of the previous 499 days. It certainly feels that way personally (if we’re playing with exact numbers, then Day 481 was the probably the worst). We’re not allowed out between 10pm and 4am (like I’d want to anyway) and we can’t buy alcohol to drink at home on the weekends or public holidays (tomorrow is a public holiday) (but again, like I’d want to anyway).
There’s no end in sight for the third wave or the pandemic or the lockdown generally. Will I be writing more about lockdown this time next year? Will my lockdown diaries tag reach 1000 days. I wouldn’t rule it out.
In the meantime, we’re still doing our level best to be good and to avoid people and places. And given that I get knackered just walking from one room to another – and looking at that graph above – maybe that’s the best way to be at the moment.
As a brief addendum, can you imagine if I’d kept my 50 Days Of Lockdown Flickr album going all this time? I was getting desperate for content by Day 8! Day 408 would have been pants.
Yes, Day 450 of lockdown in South Africa. That’s a lot of days, and so it seems reasonable to ask what progress we have made since late March last year.
Officially, almost 60,000 deaths from Covid-19 (although the true figure is probably much higher than that); I can’t buy any alcohol until Monday and I can’t go out after 10pm. And in the next month, I’m probably going to be at a higher risk of contracting Covid-19 than ever before. 3.4% of the population have been vaccinated, although most of those have only received one of the two doses they require. Joburg’s hospitals are full and are turning away desperate patients until others die and free up beds.
It’s a deeply unpretty spectacle.
And yet, as I have previously lamented, life goes on unabated. I don’t know what it will take to change people’s mindset, but I can’t see it happening any time soon. And that means that it will likely be too late.
It’s a gorgeous sunny day here in Cape Town. High 20s and uninterrupted blue skies across the city. Fresh, clean, outdoor air is everywhere, and yet the malls and pubs are packed. It sometimes feels like I’m the only one that’s feeling this way, but there must be others also feeling vulnerable and choosing to keep themselves to themselves with just a coffee or two, last night’s braai meat, some Woolworths salami sticks and the football on the tele.
I don’t get it. And so I try to find some solace in Hungary v France.