Just when I thought things could not get any stranger during these COVID-19 times, the German government declared partial lockdown, which some are now referring to as Lockdown Light or as I prefer to call it: Advanced Social Distancing. It was barely a week ago that I muttered in discontent that with so many new and constantly changing rules regarding social distancing in Berlin, it is difficult to keep track of what is allowed where anymore. Things change almost on a daily basis, either in a painstakingly effort towards maintaining a sense of stability or stepping up the restrictions. Whichever the case may be, my daughter and I were headed towards one of the parks and I wondered out loud whether this was one of the places we had to wear a mask.
Observing the mandatory use of masks in public transportation and most shops was no problem these past seven months, but when the Berlin local government decided to declare certain streets around the city as mandatory mask zones, I shook my head in disbelief. What is the point of highlighting some streets and not others? As I tried to wrap my head around this bizarre concept, the next shoe dropped. Finally, instead of each state having their own rules and standards regarding social behaviour for COVID-19, a comprehensive and uniform set of guidelines will be implemented nation-wide from Monday onwards for the for the whole month of November. I for one welcome this step, difficult though it may be for civil society to follow, and disastrous that it will turn out to be for many business sectors. When you are sick and lying in bed agonising, you don’t go around fighting the doctors or spit out the prescribed medicine and expect to get better just like that. Bitter or not, if it will heal you then swallow the damn pill!
What will it take for the disbelievers and COVIDiots out there to understand that the situation has gone over and above protecting individual freedoms, and the collective well-being is the one struggling for survival? For many, the brutal reality has arrived at their doorstep, and COVID-19 is no longer an abstract concept that you read about in the news, but something that the children contracted in school, or a parent caught from a colleague, and so on. The tables are turned and suddenly people you know personally are infected or have died from it, and is something you can no longer push aside and ignore.
You can read all about the long list of restrictions that will be effective on Monday from various news sources, but what strikes me as peculiar and I have to question out loud is the effectivity of keeping the schools open nationwide. Granted, the government does not want a repeat of the first lockdown where children were stuck at home for months on end without proper socialisation or learning facilities, but what about the risks involved in exposing the children and bringing the disease home? Yes, one the one hand keeping the children in school will decrease the chances of another escalation of domestic violences, but is this the solution?
We are less than 24 hours aways from Halloween, one of my personal favourites, but Berlin is not allowing trick-or-treating this year either. I have a token amount of candy just in case, but it is heartbreaking to witness all these sources of joy be crushed one by one.
Two weeks ago we were all joking around about how the turkeys around the world were doing their happy dances because Christmas is cancelled this year. Several videos and memes went viral on social media about this and we all laughed. One by one, the company Christmas parties were cancelled, in observance of social distancing, and this morning, the news that the Christmas markets are also cancelled hit hard. Either way, I have stocked up on milk, butter and flour. If all else fails, it will be homemade bread and butter for the next four weeks! The Grinch won this year.