Hello, everyone! I know that it’s been a while since I’ve written anything here, but I just haven’t had the time! That being said, I really wanted to share what it’s been like in Germany the past couple of weeks with the spread of the Coronavirus. The worldwide closing of borders and restriction of travel of any kind has me feeling far from home.
Like most people, I’m sure, I didn’t quite understand the magnitude of how this virus would spread and the severity of it. For Germany, the outbreak started about an hour away from us in Heinsberg. It began with few hundred people and now Germany has over 8000 people who are confirmed to have the virus.
Today, March 18th, the German Disease Control Center said that if people don’t take preventative measures seriously, 10 million people in Germany could be infected in the next couple of months. But Germany has also been so far behind other countries in recommended preventive measures and it has me baffled.
Not Used to Stocking Up
It’s a funny thing that all around the world, the first thing people buy in a panic is toilet paper. Germany has been no different. Last week we went to buy some because we were actually almost out and there wasn’t much or any left in the stores we visited. Going down a toilet paper bracket is definitely a ‘First World Problem’, but a problem nevertheless!
By Friday of last week (the 13th) I realized that the possibility of having to be stuck at home for a few weeks was very real. With our neighbouring countries taking more drastic measures than Germany, I knew a lockdown was a possibility. I decided to go to the grocery store at 7:30am on Saturday to beat the rush of people since the stores were already very busy when we had gone a few days earlier.
When I arrived at the grocery store, it was honestly the busiest I’ve ever seen. People were buying carts completely loaded with food, which is something I’ve only seen back in Canada. Through all of the panic, I noticed one man buying just 4 cans of beer. It made me smile and gave me a quick reminder that I do live in Germany!
What I quickly realized is that ‘stocking up’ may be a difficult thing for Germans to wrap their mind around. Most people here live in smaller homes with smaller kitchens and even smaller fridges and freezers. Where is all of the food going to go? If you’re a German reading this, what is your take on the situation?
Feeling Far From Home
As I mentioned in the beginning, and the title of this text, this situation has me feeling far from home. Governments are recommending not to travel anywhere which, of course, is what’s needed. While I don’t have any plans to go back to Canada in the very near future, knowing it isn’t even an option is really hard. My parents were also planning a trip to visit us in the summer months, and now it’s up in the air. I’m sure they are feeling the distance more as well.
Right now, the most important thing is to be smart and only follow the advice from official government websites and the WHO. Stopping and slowing the spread of this virus is like a group project that nobody wanted, but we all need to do our part to make it a success. Peoples lives are at risk and when that happens, we should all take it seriously.
While I don’t have the expertise to give official advice on what anyone should do during this time, I do believe we should all try to stay home as much as possible. While I see in the news that Canada is already slowly shutting down, when I was out for a walk yesterday people were still out and about, going to cafes and shopping. I know Germany will shut down here more soon, but it was quite a surprise.
Last week was when schools and sports shut down, but it wasn’t really until 2 days ago, the 16th of March, that Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel actually made a statement saying that people need to stay home. An article here highlights what happened here on Monday.
All of the uncertainty surrounding the virus brings about anxiety and panic to some, but don’t forget to be kind to each other.
I hope that all my family and friends and everyone else stay healthy during this time and hopefully I will see you all back here soon!