Life After Quarantine

Today is the 31st of May, Sunday night and on the 1st of June part of daily life will largely resume in the Netherlands. Quite an opener for longer post, not much of a story it would seem. Well the story begins in March and life changed for my and my friends. I hope dear reader, that you are still healthy and still have an income.

For me the quarantine starts at the 15th of March. On that Sunday I was working at Vapiano as a line-cook. At 6 P.M. that day the Dutch prime minister and the ministers had decided that the Netherlands were to go on “intelligent lockdown.” The following weeks were filled by press conferences and updates by the “R.I.V.M.” Dates were given, measures were announced and people had to get used to a new kind of life.

As a curious reader I had lightly followed the developments of the new flu from China. From December to February a worrisome trend was evolving. Now if you are often tired and lack the time to read articles and updates in-depth you learn to scan and skim headlines related to specific events. When it came to Covid19 or Corona well, large political events in China were cancelled and then the Carnival in Venice followed. That does not happen often. Usually in history when big and important traditional gatherings are cancelled something happened, think of crises that can disrupt societies.

A new flu had emerged, it was infectious and there was no vaccine. Large gatherings of people increased the risks of infections and people had to stay home. In short with these bits of information I knew my days in hospitality were numbered. Restaurants and bars would be shut for at least 2 to 3 months. One bad month is manageable. 2 bad months or more and you can get in debt or worse lose your home. Even with the social policies in the Netherlands, 2 bad months can really have an impact.

Monday the 16th I started job hunting because hospitality would not bring in the money to pay my bills. Sure my old job was fun, but when your job is most likely wiped out by some crisis you have to hustle again. After about two weeks I was working at my new job and well life sort of went on. Working brought in the money but going to friends was not an option.

April passed by and May began. As the weeks progressed the media became worse and worse. Speculation and hype, hoping for rushed tests and vaccines and forgetting how difficult it can be to deal with new diseases. The “1918 Influenza” and “S.A.R.S.” have showed humanity that preventing worsening conditions and patience are more important than spreading false hope. It is strange how people have become so used to modern medicine while forgetting how disease has stricken humanity with all kinds of diseases for millennia. It was only after the 1900s that inoculation and vaccination as we kind of know it today became standard over time. Modern medicine is quite young when you think about it.

Do you know what I first bought when people started hoarding toilet paper? Fresh ginger, jasmine tea and enough instant noodles for at least a month. Of course some extra coffee and all was good. In case I could get ill I would at least need something to keep my air ways clean and some easy to prepare food. A weak body needs quick access hot tea and spicy noodles. Add some fresh ginger to your tea and you breathe with more ease.

Yesterday I visited Amsterdam. My friends are still healthy there, that is good news. The bad news, after months of quarantine some parts of the city have become almost dead quiet. That nearly never happens.

Life after quarantine will be different. My old employer Vapiano nearly went bankrupt, one of many companies at risk during quarantine. My new job is more crisis resistant though, so I take what I can get.

Furthermore the face masks are now a daily sight. In the future, you can even be fined for not covering your mouth in public transport. I already bought my spares and was my hands a lot more.

2020 and 2021 will be make or break for many people. Health is now a real asset so you have to stay healthy. Tests and vaccines, who knows if they are covered by health insurance or even affordable. I can only wait and stay informed. Tomorrow hospitality can partly open again in the Netherlands.

This crisis exposed a lot of fault lines in society. I hope people learn from this crisis. There are no easy answers, all you can do is prepare and prevent worse from happing. Not fun, but most necessary in these times.

Stay healthy and safe dear reader.