Imagine going on holiday to escape our crazy virus laws. You’ve chosen some very special location in the sun, travel from the airport to the smart accommodation, and the local government announces the strictest lockdown.
|Rosalind the writer ... Back in her days in journalism in New Zealand, well before establishing herself in exciting though sadly epidemic-struck Panama.|
Quite by accident, I bumped into an old friend online, a lady who was an important colleague back in my journalism days.
Rosalind had moved to Panama many, many years ago.
The moment we met by surprise on WhatsApp, I thought enviously of her life in the sun, far, far from any weird internal bugs and lockdowns and crazy stop-at-home restrictions.
As I learned quickly, though, Panama is yet another wonderful location brought down by the dreaded bug.
Life in UK gives the impression of returning towards normal. We can go shopping when the mood takes us, even if we have to wear masks soon when we do.
Out of bounds
|Not exactly an English country garden ... The lockdown makes life frustrating for Rosalind in Panama. But the chance to read a book in a garden like this has to make even a lockdown feel, well, nearly acceptable.|
In Panama where the sun is much more reliable, lockdown that began earlier in the year wasn’t. They are enduring an extended lockdown.
Rosalind told me, ‘We are now into the fourth month of a lockdown and things are not improving. In the last 24 hours, we’ve had 988 more cases and 22 deaths.
‘Jim and I have been fine with projects to keep us challenged but I am beginning to lose patience.
Shopping 7 - 10 am
‘We have a shopping slot from 7am to 10am. It’s for men on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and women on the other weekdays.’
Everything is closed on Sundays.
‘Then there is silence - just the sound of the jungle. It makes shopping feel the main event in life.’
Rosalind praises Panama’s management of the lockdown.
She is a New Zealander and notes that Panama was ahead of her homeland in countering the virus with lockdowns and closed borders. I wondered why Panama didn't match New Zealand's success.
‘I suspect that in some poorer areas they live closer together and mix more freely.‘The rules have been tight from day 1 - around March 24. Only supermarkets and pharmacies were allowed to open. A curfew ran from 6pm to 5am and we had three-hour shopping slots.
‘But when the cases kept coming, shopping was changed to separate days for men and women.
‘There are road checks and flaunting the regulations brought big fines. A Jewish wedding held on the top of a new high rise was fined $100,000!’
Suddenly, our UK lockdown feels rather more acceptable.
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