What new and unusual times we are experiencing at the moment. In just a few weeks millions of humans have been confined to their homes, in an attempt to stop the spread of Covid-19. Here in Lisbon the government asked citizens to stay at home 2 weeks ago and this has been complied with. Everything has closed except bakeries, supermarkets, petrol stations, and pharmacies. Some post offices and banks are open and of course health centres and hospitals. Dog walking is permitted, and going out for exercise, but solo, not in groups. I haven’t seen any mass panic or bulk buying here, supermarkets implemented reduced numbers in stores and so the first week there were orderly queues outside, however these have now reduced down to 1 or 2 people and sometimes no queue at all. The supermarkets near me now have markers on the floor by the checkout indicating the distance to keep while waiting to pay for groceries. My experience of this new world order here is that it has been quite civilised. Traffic has significantly reduced, at certain times making the city eerily quiet.
As ‘FicarEmCasa’, staying at home, becomes our new normal a new rhythm of daily life has reverberated across the city. On my daily dose of fresh air, humans exercising, or walking dogs keep away from each other in order to respect the social distancing we are advised is required to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Not usual behaviour for humans being social creatures.
My family and some of my friends live in the UK. I’m thankful that most of them have to stay at home now, which hopefully means they are at a reduced risk of getting the virus. Situations like this bring the best and the worst out in people. I’ve seen the news clips of humans in the UK fighting over items in supermarkets, trolleys overflowing due to bulk buying items, and humans taking items out of other people’s baskets and trolleys. Supermarkets reported that during the last week, one billion pounds worth of groceries are now stored in UK homes. Stockpiling is an emotional urge, a way of regaining control in these unknown times, so now these people are sitting in their homes surrounded by their walls of toilet rolls and tinned food, and mountains of dried pasta, the supermarkets have managed to get back to their new normal and restock shelves, so there are provisions available for all humans.
At the time of writing 560,000 people had responded to the UK government request for NHS (National Health Service) volunteers. Originally seeking a quarter of a million volunteers, people who are in good health to help the NHS, for shopping, for the delivery of medicines and to support humans who are self isolating to protect their own health, this has now been increased to 750,000 volunteers. Here in Lisbon a similar call has gone out for volunteers and I am waiting to find out from the town hall if I can help.
For me, the most interesting issue to emerge from this new world order is what we really need when everything shuts down. We want to be fed, to be healthy, to be safe in our homes, and we want our refuse collected. I worked in local government for years in the UK and key workers were defined as police, education, health, social care and prison and probation. The UK government recently released a list of new key workers, people whose jobs are vital to public health and safety during the Covid-19 lock down. Apart from the services mentioned above; food production and delivery services have now been included, delivery drivers are now an essential service; as are utility workers, we all need electricity to function in our homes, and we want our refuse collected; transportation workers, we might not be able to go out but we need goods transported across the country/world; telecommunications and postal workers, because we are working from home, if we can, and ordering our goods online. Along with health and emergency workers, delivery drivers are our new super heroes, and rightly so, how quickly life changes.
I am fortunate to live near a park where I can go for my daily walk every morning. There are a number of jasmine trees and bushes in the park, now in bloom, and it gives me great joy when I smell the scent as it’s one of my favourite fragrances, I arrange my route to take full advantage of this treat. I’m also grateful that the lock down here allows for daily exercise, my thoughts are with humans who have to stay inside for their own protection. We are enjoying perfect spring weather here so the other benefit of being able to have a walk is feeling the sun on my bones.
I have a plan of places I want to visit to write about, however this is on hold for the time being. I still haven’t written about my visit to Sarajevo, which I did in 2019, so I plan to work on this and publish over the next few weeks. I know a lot of humans around the world are adjusting to their new life style at home and have more time available to fill at the moment. I thought I would go into my archives and republish posts of some of my favourite places I visited over the last 4 years. As many countries have shut down their borders, you can ‘travel’ the world from the safety of your favourite armchair, wearing your pyjamas! If there is a place I’ve been to you would like to see please let me know, there are 27 countries to choose from, listed under ‘Country’ on the menu at the top of the page. I’d love to hear your comments too.