It is quite obvious, we have a new pandemic in our hands with deaths in over 180 countries so far. Several countries have declared a lockdown or even martial law. By now my country is in what the prime minister calls an ‘intelligent lockdown’ for two weeks. This means that people with non-vital jobs are no longer allowed to go to work, schools are closed, hotels, restaurants and most shops are closed as well, no one is allowed to go outside except for necessary food shopping, people are not allowed in groups of more than two except for families, and several sanitary and health measures have been taken. People who do not abide the emergency measures face fines as much as four hundred euros for individuals and four thousand euros for businesses. Police cars are constantly patrolling the streets.
The streets are empty. Only a handful cars are on the road. Hospitals all over the country are filling with new infected cases by the dozens. It is Saturday, and the tables outside the cafés and restaurants that would usually be filled with people enjoying the early spring sunrays are now deserted. Squares in the city center that would usually be buzzing with people are now deafeningly quiet. Parks that usually are crowded with people sitting in the grass just lie there abandoned as if all of humanity has ceased to exist. Only in supermarkets, the butcher shops, the cheese shops and the bakeries a handful of people are buying their necessary groceries.
I am on my way to the shops I always visit to buy my groceries, and I see a few youngsters outside with their skateboards, as if the emergency measures do not apply to them. The market square that is usually filled on this day of the week and serves as a parking lot for the rest of the week is now mostly abandoned. Only three cars are parked there, probably those of employees of the supermarket at the edge of the parking lot. When I enter the supermarket, an employee with sanatory spray in her hand urges me to take a shopping cart which helps to keep the mandatory safe distance of a meter and a half.
For the last few weeks I have been dedicating myself to my studies as usual, although there have been no classes since the outbreak. I am studying to become an English teacher, at a university about 100 kilometers from home. Although the professors have put up an online teaching tool to help keeping up with classes, I have no means to attend them. My computer has difficulty with the program that is used. Still, I am doing what I can to stay on track. I also keep myself busy with research for new stories to write, I check messages on social media every hour and watch the latest news feeds online.
Call me a conspiracy theorist, but everything I see gives me a feeling of being inside a dystopic blockbuster movie. Among the websites I visit daily are a few that inform me about a change that is bound to come, about scandals being unraveled soon. One of those websites tells about a 10-day blackout during which society will be purified from all evil. It says that during these 10 days there will be no internet, no cell phone coverage, no wifi, possibly even no electricity at all. The thought of this type of blackout may scare a lot of people, but I feel prepared for it. I have a whole wall of books I can read, I have a fridge and cabinets full of food, and I have an emergency survival package ready for use. If the shit hits the fan, I can survive at least a month.