What do I mean with the “post lockdown effect”? I think that 99% of the people that are reading this post have been in lockdown at one point in the past months somewhere around the world. We all have different experiences to share, based on what the regulations were in the country we were in.
In our case, many probably know by now that we were in lockdown in Nepal. On June 19th we decided to take a repatriation flight back to Italy. Why? Honestly, our lockdown experience in Nepal was absolutely perfect. We were foreigners in a country that welcomed us and made us feel at home from the first moment. We found an adorable house to stay for the whole time, thanks to Cosy Nepal. However, the continuous insecurity about the next steps for the lockdown made us feel a bit anxious and ready to leave. But this is just our story!
Our return back to Italy
Once we returned back to Italy, we talked to many friends and family. They shared with us their personal experiences and feelings about their time in lockdown. Some struggled through it all. Some enjoyed having more time with their families. Others are still worried to this day that the world will go back into lockdown soon. Some are still trying to put their businesses back on track. This moment of pause in all our lives has caused so many different issues. It is still causing many more. Our reality has changed overnight. Who knows if and when it will go back to what it was like before. I think the question most of us have in our heads is: is this going to be our “new normal”?
We are still in Italy at the moment. Just recently we purchased a camper van in order to continue traveling but avoiding planes for the time being. We had to adapt to this “new normal” by changing our travel plans and our way of getting to places. We often get the question: what is the situation like in Italy? Or in Europe in general?
In this post, I would like to share not as much of what the situation is in one particular country rather than another. I want to highlight some of the changes that this lockdown has caused in our everyday life. I would like to share some of the thoughts that go through my mind due to the stories I have been told as well as the things I witness daily. Of course, it is all based on what we have seen in just a very limited part of the world. Maybe other places will have different rules but they will all have a post lockdown effect too!
New rules have been implemented
There are so many regulations that have been implemented in order for businesses to stay open! When you walk into a business you have to wear a mask “correctly”. Plus you have to disinfect your hands as you walk in. Many of these businesses also have a plastic barrier between you and the cashier. This is an extra level of protection from any form of contagium.
As soon as we landed in Italy, we stopped at a cafe for breakfast. It was shocking to see this “new look” in the cafe. Plus we weren’t even served the cappuccino in a regular mug, due to COVID 19 regulations! Now every time we question something that is different from the past, the answer is “this is a COVID 19 regulations”.
Sometimes when I pull up the mask to go into a store I feel like I’m a thief going in for a robbery! In some places, they are very strict. They will remind you if your mask isn’t up all the way. Since you have to make sure you social distance they will also stop you if you are getting too close to someone else. If you are in a cafe, drinking your coffee, now only a limited number of people can be at the counter at the same time. However, anyone who has ever been to Italy surely knows that we all pile up on each other to order and drink our coffee at the counter in the morning! This was a big change to witness! This is for sure a post lockdown effect!
The difficulties for the businesses
Can you imagine for everyone that owns a business how damaging this forced closure must have been like? We have many friends that didn’t even know if they were going to be able to reopen once the lockdown was over. Most did in the end but with modifications to their staff. Unfortunately, many could not keep all the people they originally had to work for them. What does this mean? Many lost their jobs and most business owners are now working under stressful conditions with a very strong uncertainty for the future.
Here in Italy, tourism is picking up a bit again, of course not as much as the previous years. However, in order to open many of the activities such as hotels, restaurants, they had to follow carefully the new rules, which in many cases means a limited offer of services or anyway different from before. Let me give you some examples!
In the past few months of course we haven’t been traveling like we used to. We did spend a few nights in a few different hotels. During this time we had a chance to witness some of the changes they had to implement in order to work. We have been to a hotel where the breakfast buffet was still offered. However, the food was behind a plastic wall. You ordered what you wanted by pointing it to the waiter. It took out all the fun of the buffet!
In the case of a smaller structure, the breakfast was served in boxes with everything prepackaged. Honestly, although you were eating it in a lovely garden, it didn’t feel as exciting. Plus it feels like now we are producing even more waste with all this prepackaging. So I’m not sure we are protecting nature as much as we should.
Let’s talk about pools! Most of the campsites we went to had pools. However, everyone had different new rules all due to the COVID 19 new regulations. In some locations, you had to book a specific time slot to go to the pool. Some for 45 minutes some for 2 hours in the whole day. Can you imagine in full summer, especially with young kids?!
In some places, there were no deckchairs! In others, they had them, but the lifeguard had to disinfect them between the change of guests. Also in this case of course maintain social distance! Some applied a fee to access the pool in order to limit the number of people going. One of the last campsites we visited had the most ridiculous rules. If we wanted to stay in the pool area we had to be in the water. No sitting on the border or around the pool. If you were there to check on your kids, you could do it by standing outside of the gate! I did question these rules more than once since they were not the same everywhere and I got the same response. I was wrong everyone had to follow the same rules.
In restaurants, we found paper menus, app menus, or no menus at all. Plus oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper in little mono use packets, which is incredibly strange to witness in Italy. Businesses have to adapt to these new regulations in order to stay open. Can you imagine what costs they had to face without having the certainty that things were going to stay open? What if the business is not going to pick up again?
Another issue is that they can’t have as many people seated at the same time as they used to. A few days ago we were in a restaurant for lunch. The owner was complaining that he had to work triple now. He had seating for 40 people, but could only seat 20 at the same time. Can you imagine the struggle and with reduced personal?
We decided to take our kids to an amusement park while here. We were seeking a bit of normality and fun just to take a break from all these new rules. However, what we found were more restrictions! You had to book in advance because there should have been a limited number of people inside. The truth is that it was packed just like every year in August.
Social distancing was most of the time very questionable. They created an app to book your ride time slot. However, most people just piled up in front of the ride because they had no idea how to use it. Anyway once you arrived for your time slot you still had to stay in line for a while and social distancing was impossible.
Rides should have been sanitized between the change of people. But it was impossible to do it with so many in line anxiously waiting. Some people would complain about being too close to them. Unfortunately, there really isn’t the space to be too far apart. Best solution? If you are scared of getting sick, avoid going to an amusement park!
The growing fear
Italians always have a more physical way of saying “hi”. So you can imagine how strange it is for us to do it with our elbows right now! We have learned to keep to ourselves. We only relax around people once we understand their level of stress towards COVID 19. Are they scared that people around them might have it so they always wear their masks? Or do they believe that a bigger deal is made out of it to keep us all under control? We listen and then open up. It is a very particular time to start certain conversations and to be social.
What is the biggest issue right now? The constant fear the media keeps us in! All I hear is that the virus is coming back. That by September everything will shut down again.
What does this do to us emotionally? It sends us in panic mode and we decide to do the least possible, just in case! Many people we know didn’t even leave the country this year for vacation, just in case, everything shut down again. This was positive for the country’s tourism. However, it also reveals how the Post Lockdown effect is affecting us every single day.
Back in March when this all started we witnessed all this during our trip to Bhutan. From one day to the other we were not welcome in the country anymore but rather feared because seen as a possible threat to their health. Already then I was questioning how this virus was going to affect us with my post How have you been affected by Coronavirus? Who knew that life as we know it was going to change so radically in just 6 months!
It is heartbreaking to feel so much anger, fear, and madness around us. Uncertainty for the future is what is driving us crazy and making us extremely sad at the same time. Seeing countries that are still in lockdown since March. Knowing that we won’t have the chance to travel to many of our desired destinations in an unforeseeable future. Knowing that for the time being there is no knowing for our future does keep me up at nights sometimes.
What is this time teaching us
There is only one positive aspect of this situation. It is teaching us to not give life for granted, family for granted, friends for granted. We are learning to live in the moment. Right now the only thing we have certainty of is TODAY. All we can do is take one step at the time. Don’t plan too far ahead. Just savior the NOW because it is the only normality we have. We need to surround ourselves with who we love. Share the NOW with them so we won’t have any regrets.
Will we ever go back to the freedom we had before? I hope so, especially for traveling. However for the time being, I think that we have to take a big breath. Find inner patience and just take one day at the time, living it in full.
Enjoy your NOW together 🙏🏻.