Phase 2

Lockdown, day 88.

From my home in Tiana, Spain.

From today on, we are in phase 2 of unlocking the lockdown. We get a little more room to move. We can go back to Barcelona. We already did this last week. I couldn't wait any longer. I had to go to my beloved Obbio ecological supermarket and I insisted on going to the Mercat de la Libertad. The visit to the shop and market was not disappointing. Everything I needed was there and much more. There was a strict visitor policy: a limited number of people was allowed inside, we were to disinfect our hands under supervision and put on plastic gloves and there was an enforcer with a short baton who kept an eye on things.

In the city, the terraces on the street corners (usually four or five tables) were scarcely occupied. If you looked inside at the associated restaurants and cafes, you could see the chairs on the tables, because they are only allowed to serve people outside. We also went to see the Passeig de Gracia and the Rambla, places that are normally packed (with tourists). Now, there were only a handful of people, all with the mandatory masks and there were hardly any terraces. Clothing stores were open but had no customers. They won’t have a lot of turnover, because you’re not even allowed to try on the clothes. But this was all still in phase 1. I don't know yet what difference phase 2 will make in this regard.

On June 18, we will return to Amsterdam. At least, we have booked a ticket. You never know whether we are really going. Being back in Amsterdam will probably take some getting used to. I hear from different sides that it’s very busy again. Almost normal, someone even said. In any case, the crowds at the demonstration on Dam Square did not lie. The first thing I thought of when I saw the videos was that the big Corona outbreak in Spain started with the Women's March in Madrid. The circumstances then are of course not comparable to those of today, if only because now almost everyone was wearing a mask. There didn't seem to be a cloud in sight at the time. Moreover, during the Spanish demonstration, there would have been quite a lot of kisses and hugs, custom for Spaniards.

In his column in the magazine De Groene Amsterdammer this week, Ewout Engelen writes that you could have predicted the crowds on the Dam: "Compliance with the rules was slacking. More and more people "forgot" to disinfect their hands before entering a supermarket; the circle that people guarded around them became smaller and smaller; gatherings grew in the backyards; and more and more often you saw a pat on the back, a hug, and sometimes even a kiss on the cheek or mouth… "

The New Normal is not normal and goes against our natural needs, he writes. I cannot disagree with that. And indeed, the Corona measures particularly affect the lives of young people. They face an uncertain future. Their job or their newly established company is at risk. Their need for (new) social contacts is halted. Especially when you are young, you want to meet new people, make new friends, flirt, make love, go out, travel, experience new adventures. In addition, research has shown that the virus mainly affects people in their sixties. "Wouldn't it have shown much more solidarity if the vulnerable had opted for self-isolation and allowed the rest to continue with their lives?" Engelen suggests.

I must say I had similar thought pop up in my head when I read that people over 60 are mostly at risk: why don't we elderly people step aside temporarily, so the economy can continue to run at full speed with young people in the lead? Open the doors of nightclubs and bars again, the elderly won't go there anyway. Most of the elderly people I have spoken with in recent months thought it was nice and quiet, the lockdown. I personally would have no objection to it. It's kind of how I've lived in the past few months. I had a great time being in voluntary isolation. But of course I am not everyone. I imagine it would be a no-go for many elderly people. Moreover, there would be an unhealthy dichotomy in society and we don't want that either. And if such self-chosen isolation should last for years, I’d think twice. I am very happy that we have now entered phase 2 of loosening the rules. On to phase 3.