Was it the right decision? Too lenient? Too draconian? Were the bans on alcohol and tobacco correct? Or even legal?
I’m not getting into those discussions, simply because the views are all already so polarised and entrenched that whatever I write (or anyone else writes), no-one’s mind is going to be changed. So what’s the point?
We’re now a whole year on from that initial plan of three weeks, and we’re still in a National State of Disaster and a level 1 lockdown, with promises of a third wave of infections and a harsher Easter sanctions on the way. And we’re also a whole year on from my very first “Lockdown Diaries” post; something I’ve kept going with at least one post a day ever since. Of course, not all those posts are specifically about coronavirus and the lockdown: sometimes you want to get your mind far, far away from all the nonsense. Sometimes you don’t have a choice.
The last year has been pretty awful for everyone. Very few people have come out of it wholly unscathed, and now we’re living in this new, weird world – but at least we’re still here.
I don’t see myself being vaccinated this year unless something changes dramatically. And that basically means that we’re not going to go anywhere for at least another 12 months, prolonging my personal lockdown for another year.
I’ve been doing some rudimentary calculations and I reckon that we’re just 9 days away from what many people would call “1 year of lockdown”. Sure, when we first started there was a lot more locking down than there is now. We weren’t allowed to go out at all. Now, we’re not allowed to go out between midnight and 4am. But the State of Disaster in this often Disastrous State is still in force and will continue to be for at least another month (and obviously waaaay beyond that, too). Everyone is fully expecting a third wave of infections here, probably around May or June. And despite the government’s best promises, I’m not confident of getting a vaccination much before the end of the year. And that’s hugely optimistic, according to this useful tool.
It’s a gloomy picture, exacerbated by the miserable weather today, the horrendous traffic (ironically brought about by the easing of lockdown) and by the return of loadshedding which popped in last week to say hi and has decided to stay until at least Wednesday. So, amidst the rain, the jams, the infections and the lack of electricity, it is – once again – amazing to me that this country continues to… well… to continue continuing.
Well. Mostly, anyway. I’ve just taken a call from the place that is servicing my car today to tell me that they can’t do any wheel alignments (I wanted four done) (or one big one) until they get their wheel alignment machine mended because loadshedding has broken it. Frustrating.
But my major issue is still the amount that we are contributing to the economy via this new house. A blocked drain and a leaking pipe are today’s exciting events. The plumbers are digging through bathroom walls and trying to break as few tiles as possible, but due to the terrible way that the original pipework was installed, that’s no easy task.
Right. Let me go and see how they are getting on with their work. After all, it’s not like there’s any rush to go and fetch the car or get a vaccination, is it?
I’m aware that lockdowns limit the spread of the virus – this is undoubtedly a Good Thing – but I’m also aware that they limit our personal freedoms and the ability of businesses to make money: and that’s not a Good Thing at all, because those have implications for health and survival as well.
So, putting things simplistically, I’m asking if we can objectively, accurately and meaningfully compare protecting lives and protecting livelihoods? I don’t think so.
You might think that it’s an absolute no-brainer, but if you were to tell me that, I wouldn’t necessarily know on which side you were coming down. Because it’s all about your overall view on life, the universe and everything, and your particular outlook might be poles apart from someone else’s. Yes, you could argue that there are political and/or economic affiliations to either camp, and I’d definitely agree. But that doesn’t get us any further on what is right or wrong and which is the better path to take. And once again, as with every dichotomy these days, the divisions between the two sides are deep and emotive and can’t be bridged.
Because I know that I don’t know enough, I’m not on either side. I’m on the fence. Metaphorically, at least.
You’d think that there were some things that we could agree on, though. We have a lockdown in South Africa at the moment. So if, for example, you don’t agree with lockdowns, then you would want to get rid of that as soon as possible in order to to get the economy back up and running* as soon as possible. Because even if your view is that livelihoods > lives (and as I’ve already said, I don’t want to get into a fight over this, because I don’t claim to have the knowledge or data to agree or not), you must surely still attribute some value to the latter, and so protecting those through means other than a lockdown would surely make sense. Right? And the means to do that would definitely include social distancing, wearing a mask and advocating for the vaccine to be administered as widely as possible as soon as possible. Right as well?
And yet, weirdly, there seems to be a strong correlation between people who are anti-lockdown, and yet are also anti-mask and anti-vaccine**.
If you want to get out of lockdown as soon as possible, then stop doing things which might spread more virus around, thus prolonging the lockdown. It’s not rocket surgery.
Mind you, you’d also think that people would be sensible enough not to attend a cat’s birthday party during a global pandemic. Because it’s all about priorities, isn’t it? And when it’s my health (and possibly my life) up against joining a feline on its birthday, well, I know where mine would lie.
First off, do you have birthday parties for your pets? Sure, we might get the beagle a bone or something to celebrate its birthday, but we don’t invite 10 people around to our house. Hell, we didn’t even invite anyone around to celebrate the human birthdays in our household this last year, because there’s a frikkin’ global pandemic going around, and getting together with a group of people increases your chance of getting this really nasty virus.
And if you don’t believe me, just look at what happened at this cat’s birthday bash. The only one that seems to have come out unscathed is the cat. Selfish little git.
The outbreak was confirmed by Francisco Alvarez, The Valparaiso Regional Secretary of the Ministry of Health. He said when he first heard the outbreak began at a cat’s birthday party he didn’t believe it.
Me too, Francisco. Me too. Because:
Secondly, if you do have a birthday party for your pet (and I’m really not on the fence about this one), why do you invite humans? Cats hate humans. Your cat hates you. If you didn’t feed it, it would kill you in your bed. The last thing a cat wants around it on its special day that it doesn’t know anything about is more humans.
Not actual footage
In conclusion, don’t hold birthday parties for your cat. And really don’t hold birthday parties for your cat during a pandemic.
Yes, this was meant to happen yesterday, but then a family emergency happened yesterday and so this didn’t. Still, on the plus side, we now have another day of data to look at.
Yesterday marked 300 days of lockdown in South Africa. Varying degrees of lockdown – from literally staying inside your house 24/7 to going out and doing most anything you wanted as long as it wasn’t between 12-4am – sure, but still a lockdown in some form or other.
So where are we now?
Well, that kind of depends on with when you choose to compare our current situation.
Compared with 10 days ago: Great. Compared with 10 weeks ago: Not so good. Compared with 10 months ago: Also not so good, but, that was just before the first wave was on the way, and it was all very unavoidable, so probably not a very fair comparison.
Since lockdown began, we’ve lost lives, we’ve lost jobs, we’ve lost livelihoods, we’ve lost (what was left of) the economy and – in many cases – we’ve lost hope.
Given the time and the effort and the sacrifices, and notwithstanding that viruses are going to do virus things, it’s not a pretty picture.
Our often dysfunctional, often corrupt government has addressed the pandemic in a haphazard, illogical manner – not that I’m saying there was any given “right” way of doing things – and if news reports are to be believed (I know, I know) it has now also completely messed up sourcing even close to adequate vaccines for the country through its incompetence, which is unforgivable.
Our population has been asked, then coerced and then forced to adhere to simple steps to reduce the transmission of the virus.
The good news is that we seem to have now passed the beak of the second wave, and the positivity rate (not a perfect marker, but the best we have) is dropping off sharply. I’m hopeful that we can now begin to open up again, as was promised in Ramaphosa’s speech a couple of weeks ago, and again attempt to approach some sort of normality.
The kids are already back at school, doing alternate days to keep the in-class numbers down (and then online learning on their off days), because they can, given that there has been no official gazetting of school closures (and probably/possibly won’t be, according to this), but they’d love to get back full time as soon as possible. That routine makes a huge difference.
Basically, as a country we continue – somehow – to teeter on the very edge of disaster. The tape that’s been holding everything together for years now is very much losing its sticking power and it does really seem like there’s not much to look forward to, despite those decreasing numbers.
Let’s see what the next couple of week brings. Maybe I can write a more optimistic post if there turns out to be a bit more optimistic news.
I’m looking at my desktop today and it’s a pretty miserable sight.
School reopening has been delayed until (at least) February 15th. Our two were due to go back on Monday. That’s clearly not happening now. Whether we (as a private school) will be allowed to work online in the intervening period remains to be seen. My boy had 16 months before his exams. Now he has 15. That’s more than 6% of his learning time gone already before he’s even started and that’s assuming that we’re able to stick to that 15th February date and that there are no further problems during 2021 (ha!).
I completely understand the delay – and I support it – but what I don’t agree with is the alleged reasoning behind it:
That will be 2½ months they will have had to “assess readiness”. I understand that the situation is fluid, and I understand that teachers need a break after last year, but is there really nothing that they could do to prepare a little more in the interim?
And then, an email from the school – before all this morning’s announcements – confirmed what we already knew: my son’s school camp has been postponed. This is on top of two scout camps being cancelled over the summer break, and his school tour – a real highlight in his educational journey – being chalked off at the end of last year. Again, I get it, but I feel for him and his classmates: it’s just really crap.
Emirates have joined the party and suspended all flights in and out of SA for the next couple of weeks, due to “operational reasons”. I’m guess that this is a combination of not being allowed to fly in or out during curfew hours (currently 9pm-5am) and no-one wanting/needing to fly in or out anyway.
But they could just have said that.
Those who thought that 2021 might mark any sort of recovery in our fortunes*, were wrong.
I’m not even bothering to look at the calendar at all at the moment, because clearly, there’s going to be nothing that is currently on there which is going to remain in place. There will be no concerts, no gatherings, no festivals. I won’t be doing the Cycle Tour or the 2Oceans Ultra Marathon again this year. Even a social braai is going to be an ordeal.
Ugh. What a schlep.
I might go and write some online quizzes to cheer myself up and bamboozle friends and family.